Skip to main content

Full text of "Goethe, with special consideration of his philosophy"

See other formats



ITHACA, N. Y. 14853 




,— f 





5 f 1 


■ 1 MlttVUt 












- > 



Cornell University 

The original of this book is in 
the Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 


l6 f/ii 

i^ "ii o o A A-% 





GOETHE, the man, the poet, and the author, has been de- 
scribed over and over. His works have been translated, 
interpreted, discussed, and it seems almost redundant to return to 
him again. And yet we venture to offer a book on Goethe. Certain 
very important phases in Goethe's life appear to have been neglected. 
Most of his greatest works have been translated into English, a 
few of them, for instance "Faust," in many different versions, but 
there are some of his most characteristic poems of which no one has 
ever ventured to offer a translation, and it is precisely these poems 
that contain the most thoughtful verses ever written by this great 
poet, prominent in the literature not only of the German fatherland 
but of the whole world. 

We offer this presentation of Goethe with the special purpose 
in view of bringing out those features of his life which characterize 
him as a thinker or, perhaps better, as a philosopher. 

Though Goethe can not be called a philosopher proper, though 
he had a positive aversion to philosophy as a specialized study, he 
may fairly well be called a philosopher in the broad sense of the 
term. He was a thinking man who had a definite world-conception 
which dominated not only his particular life but also his poetry. 

Some of the philosophical poems of Goethe are rather difficult 
to understand and have therefore not become as well known as those 
other poems of his which were written in a lighter vein. Neverthe- 
less they are by no means unintelligible to the general reader and 
possess the advantage of becoming more interesting as soon as their 
real significance has been grasped. P. C. 



List of Illustrations vii 

The Life of Goethe 1 

His Relation to Women 66 

Goethe's Personality 143 

The Religion of Goethe 177 

Goethe's Philosophy 222 

Literature and Criticism 261 

The Significance of "Faust" 282 

Miscellaneous Epigrams and Poems 327 

Index 347 



Goethe in his Last Year, 1832. By C. A. Schwerdgeburth. (Frontispiece.) 

Horoscope of Goethe. Cast by A. J. Pearce 2 

Goethe's Grandfather, Schultheiss Textor. After a painting by A. Scheppen 3 
Goethe's Grandmother, Frau Anna Margaretha Textor. Artist unknown . . 4 

The Goethe Homestead in Artern on the Unstrut 5 

The Textor Homestead 6 

The Goethe House at Frankfort as it Looked in Goethe's Childhood. Drawn 

by E. Biichner 7 

Frangois de Theas, Count of Thorane 8 

The Rahmhof. Where the French Theater at Frankfort was established. . . 9 

Johann Adam Horn. After a drawing by Goethe 10 

Burning his Youthful Productions 12 

Friederike Elisabeth Oeser. Etched by Banse in 1777 from a painting by 

her father, Prof. Adam Friedrich Oeser 13 

Discussing Religious Questions with the Dresden Shoemaker 14 

Bird's Eye View of Strassburg. From an old hymn-book 16 

Jacob Michael Reinhold Lenz. After a drawing by Pfenninger in Lavater's 

Collection 17 

Johann Heinrich Jung- Stilling. By H. Lips, 1801 18 

Goethe's Residence when a Student. On the Old Fish Market in Strass- 
burg 19 

Maria Caroline Flachsland. Afterwards Frau Herder 20 

Johann Heinrich Merck 21 

View of Wetzlar from the South 22 

Carl Wilhelm Jerusalem as a Child. Drawing formerly in the possession of 

Georg Kestner of Dresden, grandson of Frau Charlotte Kestner. 

Now in the Goethe Museum of Weimar 23 

Johann Christian Kestner. After a lithograph of J. Giere from a painting 

in the possession of Georg Kestner 24 

Werther's.Lotta. By Kaulbach 25 

Christoph Friedrich Nicolai. Haid's engraving after Chodowiecki 26 

Joys of Young Werther. Chodowiecki's vignette on the title page of Nico- 

lai's satire 27 

Johann Bernhard Basedow 29 

Karl Ludwig von Knebel. Drawn by Schmeller, 1824 30 

Christian, Count Stolberg. After a painting by Grdger 31 

Friedrich Leopold, Count Stolberg. After a painting by Rincklacke 31 



Christoph Martin Wieland •'2 

Karl August, Duke of Saxe Weimar. Drawing from life by Lips, 1780 ... 34 

Goethe's Little Country House. After a drawing by O. Wagner, 1827 35 

Goethe's Coat of Arms ■ 36 

View of St. Peters. Sketched by Goethe 39 

Goethe in Rome. Drawing by Tischbein, 1787 40 

Goethe in the Campagna at Rome. Painting by Tischbein 41 

Maddalena Riggi. Painting by Angelica Kauiimann 42 

Christian August Vulpius 43 

August von Goethe. Crayon drawing by Schmeller r 44 

Old Theater in Weimar 45 

Schiller and Goethe Ridiculed 46 

Franz Schubert 47 

Karl Loewe 48 

The Goethe Table in Schiller's Garden. Where the friends often conversed 

together SO 

Goethe Contemplating Schiller's Skull. Sculpture by Eberlein 51 

Goethe in 1800. Crayon by F. Bury 52 

Christiana Vulpius and August von Goethe. Watercolor by Heinrich Meyer 53 

Bettina von Arnim. At an advanced age 54 

Johann Peter Eckermann. Original in the Goethe Museum at Weimar... 58 
Goethe Dictating to Eckermann. After an oil painting by J. J. Schmeller 

in 1831 59 

Goethe's Son August. Medallion by Thorwaldsen 62 

"More Light." Painting by F. Fleischer in the Goethe Museum at Weimar 63 

Goethe's Grandchildren. Drawing by Arendswald, 1836 64 

Goethe in his Thirtieth Year. Painted by G. O. May, 1779 67 

Goethe's Mother, Frau Aja. After a picture in the possession of Solomon 

Hirzel 68 

Goethe's Father. After a copper engraving in Lavater's Physio gnomische 

Fragmente, 1777 69 

The Goethe Family of Frankfort. Painted by J. C. Seekatz in 1762 70 

The Room of Frau Rath Goethe. Drawing by E. Biichner 71 

Gretchen. By Kaulbach 75 

The Poet's Sister. Drawn by Goethe about 1770. From the portfolio Juve- 
nilia 77 

Cornelia, Goethe's Sister ! . 78 

Johann Georg Schlosser. Medallion by Becker 80 

Charitas Meixner. After an oil painting 81 

Betty Jacobi, nee von Clermont 82 

Johanna Fahlmer in Old Age 82 

Kitty Schonkopf 83 

Kaulbach's Brion Family 85 

Friederike's Home, the Parsonage at Sesenheim. After an oil painting in 
the possession of A. Storber, now in the Preie Deutsche Hochstift 

at Frankfort on the Main 86 

Falk's Friederike Portrait. Found among Lenz's papers 87 

Friederike's Autograph 88 

The Parsonage at Sesenheim. Drawing by Goethe 89 



Goethe Parting from Friederike. By Eugen Klimsch 90 

Sesenheim gj 

Susanna von Klettenberg in her Forty-fourth Year. In the Goethe Mu- 
seum at Weimar 97 

Charlotte Sophie Henriette Buff. Redrawn from a pastel 99 

The Deutsche Haus, Showing the Windows of Charlotte's Room 100 

Charlotte Buff's Room in the Deutsche Haus at Wetzlar 100 

Frau Sophie von La Roche 101 

Frau IMaximiliana Brentano. Daughter of Sophie von La Roche and 

mother of Bettina von Arnim 102 

Anna Elisabeth Schonemann : Goethe's Lili 103 

Lili's Menagerie. By Kaulbach 104 

Barbara Schulthess. Painting by Tischbein, 1781 106 

Mignon in "Wilhelm Meister." By Kaulbach 107 

Corona Schroter. By Anton Graff 109 

Iphigenia and Orestes. By Georg Melchior Kraus 110 

"The Fisher Maiden" Played in Tiefurt Park. By Georg Melchior Kraus 111 

Corona Schroter. By Georg Melchior Kraus 112 

Friedrich Hildebrand von Einsiedel. Drawing by Schmeller 113 

Cupid Feeding a Nightingale 114 

Amalia, Duchess Dowager of Saxe-Weimar. Painting by Angelica Kauff- 

mann 116 

Duchess Dowager Amalia in Advanced Years. Etching by Steinla, after 

a painting by Jagemann 117 

The Circle of the Duchess Amalia. Water color by Kraus, 1795 118 

Castle Kochberg, Mansion on the Stein Estate. Drawn by Goethe 119 

Friedrich Consfantin von Stein (called Fritz). Drawing by Schmeller, 

about 1819 120 

Christiana Vulpius 121 

Christiana Waiting. Drawn from life by Goethe 122 

Christiana Asleep. Drawn by Goethe in illustration of his poem 123 

Frau Johanna Schopenhauer and her Daughter, Adele 125 

Facsimile of the Handwriting of Goethe and Schopenhauer 126 

Caroline von Heygendorf, nee Jagemann 128 

Arthur Schopenhauer. Bust by Elisabet Ney 129 

Ludwig Joachim von Arnim 130 

Clemens Brentano 130 

Bettina von Arnim, nee Brentano. Enlarged from a miniature by A. von 

Achim Baerwalde 131 

Minna Herzlieb 132 

Frau Marianne von Willemer, nee Jung. Engraved by Doris Raab. 1814. 133 
The Bridge Over the Main at Frankfort. Drawing in sepia by A. Radl, 
presented to Goethe after his visit at the Willemer home, August 

12-18, 1815 . , 134 

Marianne von Willemer 135 

Ottilie von Goethe, nee von Pogwisch. Crayon by H. Miiller about 1820. . 137 

Ulrike von Levetzow. After a pastel miniature 138 

Kolbe's Goethe Portrait 139 

Frau Charlotte von Stein, nee Schardt. Drawn by herself, 1790 140 



Frau Charlotte von Stein. Painting by H. Meyer, 1780 141 

The Apollo Bust of Goethe. By A. Trippel 144 

Goethe in his Eighty-third year. After an engraving by Schwerdgeburth 145 

Karl Friedrich Zelter 148 

The Young Poet, Drawn by Himself. From the portfolio Juvenilia ISO 

The Watch Tower of Sachsenhausen on the Main Opposite Frankfort. 

Drawing by Goethe contained in the portfolio Juvenilia ISl 

The Church of St. Leonhard. Drawing by Goethe, 1764. From the port- 
folio Juvenilia 152 

An Etching by Goethe. From the portfolio Juvenilia 153 

Goethe's Study. Drawn by O. Schultz after a photograph by L. Held . . . 156 

Goethe's House in Weimar 157 

Goethe's House in Weimar 158 

Gottsched Rebukes his Servant 160 

Johann Christoph Gottsched 161 

C. F. Gellert 162 

J. C. Gottsched 162 

Christianus Fiirchtegott Gellert. Raid's mezzotint after the painting by 

Anton Graff 163 

Gellert's Lecture Room 164 

Caricature of Goethe. By Daniel Maclise after a similar one by Thackeray 167 

Beethoven in the Streets of Vienna. Sketch by J. P. Lyser 167 

Duke Karl August and Goethe. Engraving by Schwerdgeburth 169 

Johann Friedrich Cotta, Baron Cottendorf. Goethe's publisher and founder 

of Die Horen 170 

Goethe. By Rumpf 172 

The Youthful Priest 181 

Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi 186 

Johann Kaspar Lavater. After a water color by H. Lips 194 

Prometheus 200 

Diana of the Ephesians 209 

Goethe's Poem in the Hunter's Hut 217 

Goethe on the Gickelhahn 218 

The Hunter's Hut on the Gickelhahn near Ilmenau. After a photograph . 219 

Leaf from Goethe's Gingo Tree 223 

Lasst fahren kin (music) - 226 

Friedrich Wilhelm Rieraer 235 

Friedrich von Mueller. Drawing by Schmeller 236 

Albrecht von Haller 250 

A Contemporary Caricature 261 

Johann Gottfried von Herder. After a crayon drawing from life by Burg 262 

Maler Miiller. Engraving by Ludwig E. Grimm, 1816 263 

Friedrich Maximilian Klinger. Drawing by Goethe, 1775 263 

Friedrich Schiller. Drawing by Jagemann 264 

The Young Goethe. Crayon by Johann Hieronymus Lips, 1791, in the 

Freie deutsche Hochstift at Frankfort 265 

August Wilhelm von Schlegel. Painting by Hoheneck 266 

Ludwig Tieck. Painting by. Joseph Stieler 267 

Heinrich Heine. Painting by Moritz Oppenheim ^70 



Friedrich von Hardenberg (Novalis) 271 

Karl Friedrich Bahrdt 275 

Witches Celebrating Walpurgis Night. By Franz Simm 284 

Pico di Mirandola 286 

Faust Beholding the Emblem of the Macrocosm. After P. Rembrandt . . 288 

Faust in his Study. By A. von Kreling ' 290 

Mephistopheles and the Student. By A. Liezen-Mayer 292 

Mephistopheles at the Door of Faust's Study. By A. Liezen-Mayer 294 

Signing the Contract. By Franz Simm 295 

Faust's Last Hours and Death 298 

Conjuring the Devil 299 

Studying Black Magic 299 

Some Pleasantries of Black Magic. After Scheible's reproduction from 

Widmann's "Faust" 299 

Miracles and Conjuration. After Scheible's reproductions from Wid- 
mann's "Faust." 299 

Faust Conjuring Mephistopheles 300 

The Legend of Theophilus 302 

Gretchen in Prison. By Franz Simm 303 

Satan Accusing Job. Fresco by Volterra in the Campo Santo at Pisa . . . 306 

Mephistopheles Before the Lord. By Franz Simm 307 

On the Wine Cask. By Franz Simm 313 

Faust in Auerbach's Cellar. Fresco . . ; 314 

The Riotous Students and Faust's Escape. After P. Cornelius 314 

The Key 317 

Wagner Preparing his Homunculus. By Franz Simm 318 

Self-Satisfied. By Franz Simm 319 

When in the Infinite Appeareth 330 

Time Mows Roses 332 

Many Cooks Will Spoil the Broth 333 

Liegt dir Gestern klar und oifen (in Goethe's handwriting) 335 


^^INCE it is not our intention to add a new biography of 
»^J^ Goethe to those which have already appeared, we will here 
simply recapitulate for our readers in a few words the chief 
events of Goethe's life, and point out the personages who at one 
time or another played a part in it. In subsequent chapters we 
shall supplement our meager sketch with quotations from Goethe's 
autobiography of such passages as characterize the man, his 
philosophical thoughts, his religious views, and his maxims on 
the conduct of life. 

Goethe was the first and only son of Johann Caspar Goethe, 
a Frankfort magistrate with the title Counselor, and of his wife, 
Catharine Elizabeth, nee Textor. The child was named Johann 
Wolfgang, after his maternal grandfather Textor. 

In his autobiography "Truth and Fiction,"^ the poet speaks 
of his horoscope which he describes thus : 

"On August 28, 1749, at midday as the clock was striking 
twelve, I came into the world at Frankfort on the Main. The 
position of the heavenly bodies was propitious : the sun stood in 
the sign of the Virgin and culminated for the day; Jupiter and 
Venus looked on the sun with a friendly eye and Mercury not 
adversely, while Saturn and Mars remained indifferent ; the moon 
alone, just full, exerted the power of its reflection all the more 
as it had then reached its planetary hour. It was opposed, there- 
fore, to my birth which could not be accomplished until this hour 
was passed." 

' Throughout this work the quotations taken from Goethe's Autobiography 
follow mostly the translation of John Oxenford, with occasional minor altera- 
tions. Those taken from Faust are in Bayard Taylor's poetical version. All 
the translations of other miscellaneous poetry have been made by the present 
author, except where expressly credited to some one else. 


Ralph Shirley, the editor of The Occult Review and an 
astrologer by conviction, has investigated Goethe's horoscope 
and points out that the poet's description is not quite accurate. 
We reproduce Goethe's nativity as he publishes it,^ the planetary 
positions being supplied by A. J. Pearce, and we will quote Mr. 
Shirley's comments on the same as follows : 

"Goethe was born under the sign of the Scorpion — the night 

Jon^. 8 ^l~E S'o-^A/ 

Cast by A. J. Pearce. 

house of the planet Mars — as it is astrologically designated, 
and his dominant influences were Saturn and the Sun. The 
Sun is hyleg or life-giver in this horoscope owing to its merid- 
ional position, and would have warranted the prediction -of a 
long life in spite of certain constitutional drawbacks. 

"The mythological Saturn has the reputation of devouring 

' The Occult Review, May, 1908, p. 2S7. 


his children at birth, and the fact that Goethe was born into the 
world 'as dead' is more probably attributable to the closely 
ascending position of the malefic planet than to the poet's rather 
fanciful suggestion of the effect of the (proximate) full Moon 

After a painting by A. Scheppen. 

"Fortunately for him Goethe was not left entirely to the 
tender mercies of the planet Saturn, the Sun, Mercury and Venus 
all being notably elevated in his horoscope, the Sun (as he in this 
case correctly describes it) exactly culminating in the sign of 



the Virgin, and indicating thereby success and the 'favor of 
princes.' Venus occupied the mid-heaven in close opposition to 
Jupiter, a position which it hardly requires an astrologer to 
interpret, in the light of the native's life.^ Mercury was posited 


Artist unknown. 

in the ninth house, the house of rehgion, philosophy and science 
— the mental trend, as one may say — in the ambitious sign Leo 

' The native is an astrological expression for the individual whose horos- 
cope is under discussion. Saturn culminated in conjunction with Venus at 
Lord Byron's birth. It was in conjunction with Jupiter at the birth of Lord 
Beaconsfield and also of Lord Rosebery. 



and was more or less loosely opposed by the malefic Uranus which 
holds rule in the third house, denoting 'brethren' and 'near neigh- 
bors.' Mars, in its exaltation. Lord of the Ascendant and in 
trine with the Sun, occupies the second house, and in spite of 
its good aspects denies the accumulation of wealth. 

"I do not think any astrologer worthy of the name could 
have looked twice at Goethe's horoscope without forecasting a 


high position. and notable name. There are practically six planets 
angular^ (if we include Mercury, which has quite recently cul- 
minated). Jupiter occupies its own house (Pisces) and the 
Moon, Mars and Uranus are in exaltation. The sign rising, 
though a dangerous one, favors the attainment of fame and 
notoriety. The closely ascending position of Saturn recalls the 
observation of the eminent Frenchman on first seeing Goethe, 

*To have many planets angular is considered one of fhe strongest testi- 
monies of a notable name. The Sun and Moon are reckoned as planets 


'C'est un homme qui a eu beaucoup de chagrins' It also accounts 
for his periods of intense depression, his philosophic outlook and 
the aloofness of his intellectual temperament, and, in spite of 
his love of life (indicated by Venus culminating and Scorpio 
rising), the intense seriousness which characterized him. 



"Saturn is par excellence the philosopher's planet. Mentally 
it typifies deep thought and the serious point of view. Corre- 
sponding to the Greek Kronos (Time) it rules all such things 
as last and endure." 




Drawn by E. Biichner, 



Goethe's father, born July 31, 1710, was the son of a tailor 
of Mansfeld who had settled in Frankfort. He in his turn 
was the son of a horseshoer, hailing from Artern on the Unstrut. 
A picture is preserved of the home of Goethe's grandfather 
in Artern on the Unstrut. It shows a very simple building, but 
solidly constructed. The smithy appears to have been on the 
ground floor, and the living rooms above it on the second floor 
under the roof. 

Goethe's mother, the daughter of Schultheiss (i. e., judge) 

Original in possession of Count Sartoux in Mouans. 

Johann Wolfgang Textor, was born in December, 1731. She 
was married to the Counselor Goethe on August 20, 1748. 

Goethe had only one sister, Cornelia, who was born two years 
after him in December, 1750. A later chapter will treat of her 
personality and the relations between the brother and sister.^ 

During the Seven Years' War (1756 to 1763) young Wolf- 
' See pp. 77-81. 


gang was an ardent admirer of Frederick the Great. French 
troops fighting against Prussia occupied Frankfort for some time, 
and the boy learned much through contact with the French, 
especially through Count Thorane, who was quartered in his 
parents' home. 

We call this French officer "Thorane" although his real name 
was Francois de Theas, Comte de Thorane. In his signatures 
the c was commonly misread for e, and even the regulations pub- 
lished over his own name bear the wrong spelling "Thorane." 
The mistake has been perpetuated in Goethe's work "Truth and 
Fiction," and through Goethe it became the established spelling 

Where the French theater at Frankfort was estabhshed. 

so that the correct name scarcely identifies the man. Incidentally 
we will mention that Thorane did not die in the West Indies as 
Goethe states, but returned to France and died there in 1794. 

At the time of the French occupation young Goethe fre- 
quently visited the French theater in Frankfort and made the 
acquaintance of a French boy of his own age, the son of an 


* * * 

Goethe's jolliest comrade in Frankfort was a certain Johann 
Adam Horn. Goethe mentions his merry temperament in "Truth 
and Fiction" and characterizes him in these words: 



"To begin with, the name of our friend Horn gave occasion 
for all sorts of jokes, and on account of his small figure he was 
always called Hornchen, 'Little Horn.' He was, in fact, the 
smallest in the company. Of a stout but pleasing form, with a 
pug-nose and mouth somewhat pouting, a swarthy complexion 
set off by little sparkling eyes, he always seemed to invite laugh- 
ter. His little compact skull was thickly covered with curly 

After a drawing by Goethe. 

black hair; his beard was prematurely blue; and he would have 
liked to let it grow, that, as a comic mask, he might always keep 
the company laughing. For the rest, he was neat and nimble, 
but insisted that he had bandy legs, which everybody granted, 
since he was bent on having it so, but about which many a joke 
arose; for, since he was in request as a very good dancer, he 
reckoned it among the peculiarities of the fair sex, that they 


always liked to see bandy legs on the floor. His cheerfulness 
was indestructible, and his presence at every meeting indispen- 
sable. We two kept more together because he was to follow me 
to the university; and he well deserves that I should mention 
him with all honor, as he clung to me for many years with in- 
finite love, faithfulness, and patience." 

Goethe wrote some poetry in this first period of his li-fe, but 
most of it he did not deem worthy of preservation; and what we 
have, the "Poetical Thoughts on the Descent of Jesus Christ into 
Hell" (1765), is not very promising. 

In the autumn of 1765 Goethe traveled to Leipsic where on 
October 19 he was enrolled at the university. His father wanted 
him to study law in order to enable him to hold a position like 
himself in the mvinicipality of the free city of Frankfort, but 
the young poet preferred the study of belles lettres, and went to 
Leipsic with the intention of mapping out his course according 
to his own inclinations. The professors to whom he made known 
his purpose with all self-assurance discouraged him in his zeal 
for a poetic career, and the result was a compromise by which he 
was to hear lectures on philosophy and history of law and yet 
was free to attend Gellert's course in the history of literature. 

Among the circle of Goethe's friends was Behrisch, a dear 
companion to whom he dedicated some odes, while Johann Georg 
Schlosser, a man of distinction, afterwards became his brother- 
in-law. Some of the professors and their families were very 
kind to the young student, and Madame Bohme in particular, the 
wife of the professor of history and public law, did much to 
mold his taste, especially with regard to contemporary poetry of 
which she was a merciless critic. Finally he became so unsettled 
that, as he says in "Truth and Fiction," 

"I was afraid to write down a rhyme, however spontaneously 
it presented itself, or to read a poem, for I was fearful that it 
might please me at the time, and that perhaps immediately after- 
wards, like so much else, I should be forced to pronounce it bad." 

He goes on to say: 

"This uncertainty of taste and judgment disquieted me more 



and more every day, so that at last I fell into despair. I had 
brought with me those of my youthful labors which I thought 
the best, partly because I hoped to get some credit by them, 
partly that I might be able to test my progress with greater cer- 
tainty. . . .However, after some time and many struggles, I con- 
ceived so great a contempt for my labors, begun and ended, that 
one day I burnt up poetry and prose, plans, sketches, and proj- 


acts, all together on the kitchen hearth, and threw our good old 
landlady into no small fright and anxiety by the smoke which 
filled the whole house." 

The Director of the Academy of Arts, Adam Friedrich Oeser, 
had a strong influence on Goethe's artistic taste. We must re- 
gard it as a distinction for the young Goethe that he had ad- 
mission to the family circle of Professor Oeser and became 

The LIFfi OF goEthe. 


acquainted with the Frau Professor and their daughters. It was 
to Fraulein Friederike EHsabeth Oeser that Goethe inscribed 
the collection of songs which he wrote while in Leipsic. 

In this period of his life Goethe wrote "The Whim of the 


Etched by Banse in 1777 from a painting by her father, Prof. Adam 

Friedrich Oeser. 

Lover" (Die Laune des Verliehten) and "The Fellow Culprits" 
{Die Mitschuldigen) , neither of which is worth reading, and in 
Goethe's own interest they would have better been burned with 
the rest of his youthful effusions; but his little love ditties {Leip- 






siger Liederbiich, 1769) which date from this period indicate 
that something better was to be expected of him in the future. 

We must not forget to mention Goethe's excursion to Dres- 
den which he undertook in order to acquaint himself with the 
art treasures of the Saxon capital. It is characteristic of Goethe 
that he always took an interest in original personalities, whether 
of a high or lowly position in life. A fellow lodger who was 
a student of theology at Leipsic had a friend in Dresden, a poor 
cobbler whose letters exhibited a peculiar religious disposition 
and good common sense based upon a serene conception of life. 
To use Goethe's own words he was "a practical philosopher and 
unconscious sage." Having arrived in Dresden Goethe visited 
the pious cobbler and his wife, and at once made friends with 
both of them by entering into their views of life. He stayed 
with them during his sojourn in Dresden and describes vividly 
the conversation with his religious friends. 

The end of Goethe's stay in Leipsic was darkened by a serious 
illness which began with a violent hemorrhage of the lungs. As 
soon as he was able to make the journey he left the university, 
August 28, 1768, for his home in Frankfort. 

When he had entirely recovered from his illness, his father 
decided to send him to the University of Strassburg. 

At the end of the eighteenth century Strassburg was con- 
siderably smaller than now, while its fortifications were^tnucji, 
more extensive. They have fallen since the German occupation 
in 187T Though the city belonged to France, the life of the 
inhabitants was German in a marked degree. Only the govern- 
ment was French, and so French was the official language used 
in documents. 

Goethe became a student at the Strassburg University, on his 
birthday, August 28, 1770. Here he became acquainted with a 
number of interesting men. First among them we mention 
Herder, a few years his senior, who awakened in him a deep in- 
terest in the problems of life, notably the origin of language. 


Through Goethe's influence Herder was later on called to Wei- 
mar in the capacity of Superintendent General of the church 
of the duchy. Another friend of Goethe's during his stay at 
Strassburg was Lerse, a brave and honest young man, whose 
name is immortalized in Goethe's first drama as one of the char- 
acters of the play. Still others are the actuary Salzmann, the 

From an old hymn-book. 

poet Lenz and Jung-StilHng, a self-educated author of remark- 
able talent and a pious Christian. 

Johann Heinrich Jung (1740-1817) was originally a char- 
coal burner, then a tailor, then a village schoolmaster and finally 
under great tribulation attained his aim to study medicine. Count- 
ing himself among the members of the pious sect called Die 
Stillen im Lande, "the Quiet-in-the-Land," he adopted the sur- 
name "Stilling." In spite of their marked diversity in character 



Goethe showed a great interest and even admiration for Jung- 
StilHng's naive piety and simple-minded faith. 

The Strassburg Cathedral made a deep impression on Goethe 
and induced him to compare architecture with other arts, espe- 
cially music. His acquaintance with, and love of, the Gothic 

After a drawing by Pfenninger in Lavater's Collection. 

Style taught him that beauty is not limited to one expression 
and that besides the art of ancient Greece there are other possi- 
bilities of developing classical beauty. 

It was during the year of Goethe's student-life at Strassburg 



that his romance with Friederike Brion^ of Sesenheim took place. 
So dearly did he cherish the memory of this idyllic courtship 
that the reader of his autobiography, written when the poet was 
over sixty years of age, still feels the throb of his heart in the 

On August 6, 1771, Goethe underwent the ordeal of his rigo- 
rosum, an examination for the degree of Doctor of Laws; but 
history is silent on the result. Whether he passed or not is not 

By H. Lips, 1801. 

definitely known. One thing only is certain : the incident plays no 
part in his after life. He is neither congratulated by his friends 
or relatives on his graduation, nor does he ever claim, let alone 
use, the title, nor was he ever officially addressed as Doctor. It 
is true that in the intimate circle of his friends at Wetzlar he was 
called "Doctor Goethe," but these incidents are not convincing 
because it may have been a nickname which had found its way 
• See pp. 84-95. 



into the nursery of the Buff family, and it is well known that 
Goethe could take a joke with good grace. The university 
records which could decide the problem are no longer in exist- 
ence. All this makes it not impossible, nay even probable, that 

On the Old Fish Market in Strassburg. 

he actually failed. It is not uncommon that great men are not 
made for examinations, they show off to better advantage in life; 
and on the other hand professors are frequently mistaken in 
their estimate of a young man who, somehow, is able to take 


high standing in these mechanical tests, yet is a disappointment 
later on. 

Besides some pretty poems inspired by Friederike Brion, 

(Afterwards Frau Herder.) 

Goethe wrote his Roslein auf der Haiden in Strassburg, and 
it was there that he first conceived the plan of Faust. 

* * * 
Having returned to Frankfort August 1771, Goethe finished 
the first draft of Gotz von Berlichingen within six weeks, and 


had it published in the fall of 1772. It at once established its 
author's fame. 

Still in the year 1771, on a trip to Darmstadt, Goethe became 
acquainted with a circle of friends among whom we note Caro- 
line Flachsland, a lady of good education who was engaged to 
be married to Herder. There he met also Johann Heinrich 
Merck (1741-1791) a qusestor in the war department who was 


easily the keenest critic of the age, and had been drawn to the 
capital of Hesse-Darmstadt by the cultured Landgravine Catha- 
rine. Merck was attracted to Goethe and became one of his most 
intimate friends. He never hesitated to criticize him severely 
whenever he was dissatisfied with the poet, and Goethe was wise 
enough to heed his advice, nor did he take offence when Merck 



would say on some occasion: "You must not write such stuff 
again !" Merck's character contributed some of the satirical fea- 
tures with which Goethe endowed his Mephistopheles. His life 
came to a tragic end on June 27, 1791, when he committed 

Goethe loved to walk great distances, and on a tramp from 
Frankfort to Darmstadt in 1771 he composed the poem tVan- 
derers Sturmlied. 

In the spring (May 1772) Goethe went to Wetzlar, a small 
town where an imperial court of justice had been established. 
It was customary in those days for young Frankfort law5ners 
to attend these courts before they were admitted to the bar. in 
their own city. 


Leaving Wetzlar September 11, 1772, Goethe returned to 
y Frankfort and settled there as an attorney-at-law. Soon after- 
wards he heard of the death of Jerusalem, one of his Leipsic 
student friends. Carl Wilhelm Jerusalem was born March 21, 
1747, at Wolfenbiittel, and in 1771 had been made secretary of 
the subdelegation of Brunswick- Wolfenbiittel. He suffered from 
melancholy and, having begun to doubt the historicity of the 
New Testament, had lost his comfort in the Christian religion.' 
But the climax of his despair was reached because of his affec- 
tion for Frau Herdt, the wife of his friend, the Ambassador of 
the Palatine Electorate. Under pretense of making a journey, 
he borrowed a pair of pistols from Kestner, then secretary of 
the Bremen subdelegation, and shot himself in the night of Oc- 


tober 30, 1772. Lessing acknowledged with unstinted praise 
the extraordinary reasoning power and deep sentiment of Jeru- 


salem and raised the best possible memorial to him by publishing 
his "Philosophical Essays." 



Jerusalem's death, together with his own interest in Char- 
lotte Buff/ suggested to Goethe the plan of his novel, "The 
Sorrows of Young, Werther," which he wrote in 1774 within 
four weeks and had it published at once. It created a sensation 
throughout Germany, and though it was severely criticized it 
permanently established his fame as an author. 


After a lithograpk by Julius Giere made from an oil painting in the possession 

of GeoTg Kestner of Dresden. 

Though we recognize the unusual ability which Goethe 
showed in this book, we will grant that its influence on the. 
younger generation of Germany was very injurious. Suicides 

' See pp. 99-100. 



of- sentimental lovers increased to a most alarming extent, one 
of the best known of which was the death of Herr von Kleist 

By Kaiilbach. 

and the wife of one of his friends. It took some time before the 
literary world overcame this pathological hankering after a senti- 



'4c jfscrijixx II i 'villi 

|| ^'ii ^m^W^m ^ nu^t^ \ \ i ii . i iff i .i i i i i ii i i. i^^^ ^^ ^^ ^ ^ 

11' II ' I, '1 '"I 


Haid's ehgraving after a drawing of Chodowiecki. 



mental death of unfortunate lovers. Goethe himself knew that 
his books were not for everybody, and he said in reply to one 
of his critics, a narrow but haughty pietist : 

By the conceited man— by him 

I'm dangerous proclaimed; 

The wight uncouth who cannot swim, 

By him the water's blamed. 

That Berlin pack— priest-ridden lot— 

Their ban I ^m not heeding; 

And he who understands me not 

Ought to improve in reading. 

Chodowiecki's vignette on the title page of Nicolai's satire. 

While the "Sorrows of Young Werther" may be regarded as 
subject to criticism, we ought to mention that the book received 
quite undeserved condemnation at the hands of Christoph Fried- 
rich Nicolai, a publisher and author who at that time possessed 
considerable influence in Germany. Nicolai, born March 18, 1733, 
at Berlin, was a leading representative of the eighteenth-century 
rationalism, but he was narrow in his views and his prosaic 
nature had no sense for religious mysticism or any poetical 


enthusiasm. He did not even understand the psychical aspect 
of Werther's sentimentalism and condemned his melancholy as 
simply due to costiveness. In contrast to the "Sorrows of Young 
Werther," Nicolai published a parody, "The Joys of Young 
Werther," for which Chodowiecki engraved a title vignette. 
Goethe expresses himself about this satire in his "Truth and 
Fiction" as follows : " 'The Joys of Youiig Werther,' in which 
Nicolai distinguishes himself, gave us an opportunity for several 
jokes. This man, otherwise good, meritorious and learned, had 
begun to suppress and ignore everything that did not agree with 
his views, which he in his mental limitations regarded as the only 
true and genuine ones. Against me also he had to try his hand, 
and his brochure soon came into our hands. The very delicate 
vignette of Chadowiecki gave me great pleasure, for I esteem 
this artist beyond measure. The production itself, however, was 
cut out of coarse cloth, which the common sense of his surround- 
ings took great pains to manufacture most crudely." 

Goethe answered Nicolai's criticism in the same tone by a 
humorous quatrain entitled "At Werther's Grave," in which a 
visitor to the cemetery where the ashes of the unhappy lover 
repose declares that he would still be alive if he had enjoyed a 
good digestion. 

Goethe began his great drama Gotz von Berlichingen at the 
end of 1771; he finished it in 1772 and submitted it in manu^ 
script to Herder, but when Herder called the poet's attention to 
its shortcomings Goethe recast the whole, mercilessly canceled 
long passages and introduced new material. In this revised 
shape he had it printed at his own expense in June 1 773, because 
he could not find a publisher in Germany who would risk its 

Many men of prominence had become interested in Goethe 
and visited him in his father's home. Among them must be 
mentioned first Johann Caspar Lavater (1741-1801), a pious 
pastor of Ziirich, and Johann Bernhard Basedow, an educator 
of Hamburg. In company with these two men, both with out- 
spoken theological interests, the young worldling, as Goethe 
called himself in a poem of that period, undertook a trip along 
the Rhine in the summer of 1774. On this journey they visited 



Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi (1743-1819) on his estate at Pempel- 
fort near Diisseldorf. 

Lavater was a well-known pulpiteer and a pioneer in the 
study of physiognomy, a subject in which Goethe too was inter- 
ested; and Basedow the founder of an educational institution 
called the Philanthropin. Jacobi had deep philosophical interests 
and regarded himself as a disciple of Spinoza, whose philosophy, 
however, he accepted only so far as it could be made to agree 
with a childlike belief in God, for he was no less a faithful 
Christian than his friend Lavater. Goethe, an ardent admirer 
of Spinoza, differed from Jacobi on theism, but in spite of tran- 


sient misunderstandings they remained good friends for the rest 
of their lives. 

In October 1774 Klopstock, the author of the "Messiade" 
which corresponds to Milton's "Paradise Lost" and "Paradise 
Regained," called on Goethe, — a great distinction, as at that time 
he was the greatest poet of Germany, but now when Goethe's 
fame has so far eclipsed that of Klopstock it is difficult to appre- 
ciate the fact. 

By far the most important visit which Goethe received — 
important through its consequences — was that of Karl Ludwig 
von Knebel, tutor of Prince Constantine, the second son of the 
Duchess Dowager, Anna Amalia of Saxe-Weimar. He was 



accompanied by both princes, Karl August being at that time 
seventeen yeai-s of age. The duchess-mother, a noble woman 

Drawn by Schmeller, 1824. 

of refined Hterary taste, the daughter of Duke Karl of Brunswick 
and a sister of Frederick the Great, had called Wieland to Wei- 



mar from the University of Erfurt to educate her oldest son 
Prince Karl August, the heir apparent to the duchy. When the 
Duke became of age, Wieland was made Court Councilor and 
lived for the remainder of his life on an estate near Weimar, 
where he died January 21, 1813. 

In April 1775 occurred Goethe's brief' engagement to Lili 
Schoenemann,^ and we have a number of poems and songs of 
this period inspired by the acquaintance and dedicated to her. 

In the summer of 1775 Goethe made a journey to Switzerland 

After a painting by Groger. 



After a painting by Rincklacke. 

in company with the two counts Stolberg. In Zurich he visited 
his friends Jakob Bodmer and Lavater. The Stolberg brothers, 
Christian and Friedrich Leopold, were members of the Gottingen 
Fraternity of the Grove (Hainbund), an association of young 
poets, all admirers of Klopstock. Count Friedrich von Stolberg,- 
following his mystic inclination and frightened away from lib- 
eralism through the French Revolution, later became a convert 
to Roman Catholicism. 
' See pp. 103-105. 



Other visitors of distinction who sought the personal ac- 
quaintance of the new star that had risen on the horizon of Ger- 
man Hterature were Heinrich Christian Boie (1744-1806), the 
editor of the Musenalmanach (1770-1775), and of the Gottinger 
Deutsche Museum (1776-1791)," Gerstenberg (1737-1823) the 
author of the bizarre story Ugolino and of other poetry, Johann 

Georg Zimmermann, Court Physician at Hanover, a;uthor of a 
book "On Solitude" (1756) and on "Experience in Medical Art" 

A center for literary activity in which Goethe and his friends 
(Merck, Lenz, Herder, Klinger, etc.) took an active part was 
the Frankfurter Gelehrten-Anseiger, founded in 1772. 

In 1774 Goethe pubHshed his tragedy "Clavigo," which in 

° Since 1788 called .Neues Deutsches Museum. 


1775 was followed by a drama entitled "Stella."i° Neither of 
them is important and Goethe himself cared little for them. 
A farce, "Gods, Heroes and Wieland" (1774), though in sub- 
stance a just criticism of Wieland, was too personal in its form 
and might better have been left unwritten. To Wieland's credit 
it may be stated that he did not retaliate, and recognized the 
greatness of the young Goethe without a grudge. The two poets 
were afterwards the best of friends, and Goethe learned from 
this experience moderation in his criticism. 

Of great interest and remarkable for its wit is Goethe's satire 
on the higher criticism of the New Testament directed against 
Bahrdt.^^ At the same time (1773-1774) his soul was stirred 
with plans of great works, on such subjects as Faust, Socrates, 
Prometheus, Ahasverus the Wandering Jew, and Mahomet, but 
only Faust reached completion (though much later), while the 
other topics afforded him material for poems of great depth of 
thought in a smaller compass. 

The young Duke Karl August, who on becoming of age 
had ascended the throne of Saxe-Weimar, called on Goethe in 
Frankfort, and on his return after his marriage on October 3, 
1775, to Louise, the daughter of the Landgrave of Hesse-Darm- 
stadt, he invited the poet, for a visit to Weimar, his Thuringian 
capital. The bride's mother, the Landgravine Catherine, had 
during her life surrounded herself with a literary circle and was 
a patron of German poetry. She had died in 1774, but her 
daughter Louise had inherited her literary tastes, and in this she 
agreed with her noble mother-in-law, the Duchess Dowager 
Amalia, and also with her young husband, Duke Karl August 
of Weimar. The result was auspicious, for it made Weimar the 
center of the development of German literature. 

Goethe reached Weimar in the autumn of 1775. He was 
received as a welcome guest, and the time was spent in festivals, 
journeys, outings, skating parties, rural dances and masquerades; 
and there was some danger that these pleasures would prove the 

" "Stella" was changed in later years into a tragedy. 
'' For a translation of this satire see pp. 276-278. 



ruin of Goethe's genius. It seemed as if the spirit of Storm and 
Stress had upset all Weimar, and Goethe himself felt that they 
had carried their wanton madness too far. 

In 1776 Goethe felt a desire to settle in Weimar even before 

Drawing from life by Lips, 1780. 

his friend the Duke had offered him a position, and he had 
acquired a small house, the surrounding garden of which was in 
a wild neglected state. This property, "the garden on the Horn," 
was announced for sale in the local paper and Goethe bought it 



for $450.00 (600 thalers), what was then considered a high 
price. 12 It was deeded to him on April 22, and he moved into 
it on May 18. Goethe greatly loved his little property and spent 

much time and attention on its improvement. Beneath a sketch 
of it drawn by Otto Wagner in 1827 he wrote the following 
verse : 

"Here we follow the authority of Wilhelm Bode (Damals in Weimar, 
p. 57), while Konnecke in his Bildcratlas states that this garden" was a gift to 
the poet from the Duke. 



Arrogant 'tis surely not, 
This house in quiet garden spot, 
All the friends who visit here 
Never fail to find good cheer. 

It was here in 1778 that Goethe wrote his beautiful poem 
"To the Moon." 

In June Karl August offered the poet an appointment in the 
government of the small state with the title of Councilor and a 
salary of 1200 thalers. This was the beginning of his career 
in the Duke's service, and the city of Weimar remained his 
residence ever afterward. In 1779 Goethe was made Privy 


Councilor and in 1782 Emperor Joseph II conferred upon him 
the rank of nobility with a coat of arms showing a silver star 
on a blue field. 

In 1777 Goethe began to take his duties seriously and tried to 
be of service to the Duke. His salary was increased in 1781 to 
1400 thalers, in 1785 to 1600, and in 1816 to 3000 thalers per 
annum. He did not, however, forget his literary interests, al- 
though for a while he was more receptive than productive. 

To this period belong the several poems dedicated to Frau 


von Stein,!^ and also the beautiful songs incorporated in Wil- 
helm Meister, "He Only Who Knows Longing's Pain," and 
"Who Never Ate his Bread with Tears," besides the ballads 
"The Fisher," "The Singer," "Limits of Mankind" and "The 
Divine." New plans were conceived which gradually took a 
definite shape, among them "Tasso," "Wilhelm Meister," "Eg- 
mont" and "Iphigenia in Tauris." 

An influential citizen of Weimar during Goethe's residence 
there was Friedrich Justin Bertuch, a self-made man who was 
the leading spirit in many enterprises both commercial and lit- 
erary. At the age of twenty-six he was a translator and play- 
wright. He was appointed private secretary to the duke and 
had charge of his private treasury. Later on he became the pub- 
lisher, among other things, of Die Jenaische Literaturseitung. 
He founded the geographical institute, and helped many poor 
authors. He was particularly fortunate in building a high grade of 
houses. His taste was so refined that Schiller in 1787 spoke of 
Bertuch's own house as "unquestionably the most beautiful house 
in Weimar." The beauty, however, appears mainly in the in- 
terior and in the arrangement of the garden and its pond. One 
of his industrial interests was a flower manufactory, where Chris- 
tiana Vulpius found employment before Goethe's intimacy with 
her. During the terrors of the war Mr. Bertuch was one of the 
citizens of Weimar who still continued to employ labor, and it 
is stated that 450 people were dependent on him at. that time. 
In the reconstruction period after the war Bertuch was one of 
the most active men, and at Goethe's suggestion he was elected 
Grand Master of the masonic lodge, in which capacity he induced 
Wieland to join the lodge although he had long been an opponent 
of masonry. Wieland was officially buried by the Masons from 
the house of Bertuch, which was appropriately decorated for the 

In 1779 Goethe made another journey to Switzerland, this 
time with the Duke in strict incognito. On his way he spent two 
days with his parents at Frankfort and paid a visit to Friederike 

"See pp. 119-121 and 140-142. 


at Sesenheim. At Strassburg he called on Lili Schonemann, who 
was happily married and had just become the mother of a baby. 
At the Staubbach, one of the most beautiful cataracts, he com- 
posed the poem "Song of the Spirits Over the Water." On his 
return they passed through Constance, saw the falls of the Rhine, 
visited Stuttgart and attended a meeting of the scholars of the 
Wxirttemberg Military Academy (December 14, 1779) which 
was in so far remarkable as on this day in Goethe's presence a 
prize was awarded to a youth who was destined to become his 
best and greatest friend. It was Friedrich Schiller. 

January 13, 1780, Goethe returned to Weimar. He began 
his "Tasso," a drama in which two characters reflected the double 
part which Goethe himself was playing at the time, a poet and a 
diplomat or courtier. At the same time he was engaged in an 
elaborate novel, "Wilhelm Meister." 

In 1782, on March 25, Goethe's father died. 

In 1785 Goethe visited Karlsbad, where he met Herder and 
also some of the ladies of Weimar, notably the Duchess Louise 
and Frau von Stein. 

In July 1786 he revisited Karlsbad and left secretly for his. 
beloved Italy in August, traveling under the name of Miiller. 
He reached the country of his dreams in September and stayed 
there until April 1788. 

The country and its traditions were so congenial to him that 
he felt "as if he had been born and raised there and had only- 
come back to his home from an expedition to Greenland." In 
Rome he tarried twice, for he loved "the capital of the world" 
and declared that "there is but one Rome." He finished in 
Italy his versified rendition of "Iphigenia" and his "Egmont." 
He also worked diligently on "Tasso" and "Faust." 

In Rome Goethe met an Italian copper engraver, Giovanni 
Volpato, who was director of a school of engraving. He was 
born 1733 at Bassano and died August 26, 1803. At the time 
Goethe was staying at Rome a beautiful young Milanese girl, 
Maddalena Riggi, was visiting with friends there, and Goethe 
became acquainted with her in 1787 at Castle Candolfo while 
the guest of a wealthy English art dealer whose name was 
Jenkins. Goethe took a great fancy' to this Italian beauty and 





immortalized her in a poem entitled "Second Sojourn in Rome." 
But this episode was of a passing nature, for Maddalena very- 
soon afterwards, in 1788, married the son- of Volpato, the en- 

r'-^--^^%^> — ^.ij I -111 



■ . ..... /^: \ ' 

»., k' f%'c „! . I m 

""»', 'iH ' ' i^y III I 

Drawing by Tischbein, 1787. 

graver, and after his death she married the architect Francesco 

Among prominent Germans whom Goethe met in Rome must 
be mentioned the famous artists, Angelica Kauffmann, Philipp 
Hackert, and Tischbein. 



Goethe returned to Weimar on June 18, 1788, and it was in 
the same year that he met Christian August Vulpius (1762- 
1827), whose sister Christiana^* was for many years his faithful 
housekeeper and later became his wife. Vulpius was a poet of 

some talent. How popular he was as a playwright can be de- 
duced from the fact that his name appears in the repertoire 
forty-six times to twenty times of Goethe's, but his dramas are 
" See pp. 121-124. 



forgotten, only his song of the robber Rinddo Rinaldini sur- 
viving, and even that merely as a humorous specimen of anti- 
quated taste. 

On Christmas day, 1789, Goethe's only son was born, and in 

After a painting by Angelica Kauffmann.* 

baptism received the name August after his godfather, the Duke 
Karl August. 

In the spring of 1 790 Goethe traveled to Venice where he met 
the Duchess Amalia on her homeward way from Italy. In the 
fall he accompanied the Duke to Silesia. 

* There are two copies in existence, one in the possession of Dr. Werner 
Weisbach of Berlin, the other of Rudolf Rieter-Ziegler of Winterthur. 



In the same year he wrote his poem "The Metamorphosis of 
Plants" in illustration of the doctrine of evolution. ^^ 


In 1791 Goethe helped the Duke build the new theater at 
Weimar of which on its completion he was made director. 

" See pp. 2S1-2SS. 



In August 1792 he accompanied the Duke on his cam- 
paign in the Ardennes against the French revolutionists. In 1793 


Crayon drawing by Schmeller. 

both attended the siege of Mayence. In the same year Goethe 

began to rewrite the old German epic, "Reynard, the Fox," the 



"unholy secular Bible" as he called it because it describes the 
ways of the world in which the scoundrel triumphs by dint of his 

In the meantime Schiller had settled in Jena, so close to 
Weimar, as professor of history. The two greatest poets of 
Germany had thus lived in close proximity for several years, but 
remained indifferent toward each other tmtil now in the sprine; 
of 1794 Goethe felt more and more attracted by his younger 


rival, and their friendship became a source of inspiration to 
both. Buoyed by Schiller's interest, Goethe quickly completed 
his novel "Wilhelm Meister" and the epic "Hermann and Doro- 

In 1795 Schiller started a literary periodical. Die Horen, and 
in 1796 the Musen-Almanach. The former proved disappointing 
in spite of a good beginning; the latter was more successful and 
contained a great, number of poems by both Goethe and Schiller. 
Goethe published here for the first time his "Epigrams of Ven- 
ice," "Alexis and Doris, an Idyl," and his satire, "The Muses 



and the Graces in the Mark." However, the climax of an ex- 
citement in the literary circles of Germany was reached when the 
Xenions appeared in the Musen-Almanach, satirical distichs in 
which the two poets attacked their several adversaries with great 
bitterness. ^^ They were answered in many Antixenions with the 
same or even greater bitterness, but instead of continuing the 




feud Goethe and Schiller decided to justify their position by 
henceforth creating only noble works of art. ' . 

The year 1797 was the year of ballads for both Goethe and 

" The writer has published a selection of them under the title Goethe and 
Schiller's Xenions, Chicago: Open Court Publishing Company. • 

* A caricature made in answer to their Xenions. ■ It shows a pageant of 
burlesque figures representing the Xenions as unruly street urchins who upset 
a column bearing the inscription "Decency, Morality, Jiistice." They are 
stopped at the gate because they do not deserve admittance. - Goethe is repre- 
sented as a faun, hoofed and tailed, carrying a ribbon in his hand' inscribed' 
Thierkreis, i.e., zodiac; Schiller is represented as a drunken coachman with 
boots, whip and bottle. . The portraits of both Schiller and Goethe are sup- 
posed to be very good and easily recognizable by people who knew the poets 
at that time. Nevertheless they are not based on any known portraits and are 
therefore assumed to be taken from life.' 



Schiller. Goethe wrote, "The Apprentice in Magic," "The Bride 
of Corinth," "The Treasure Digger," "The God and the Baja- 
dere," and others. 

Goethe's poems with all their simplicity in diction are so 
filled with sentiment that they naturally invite the composer to 


^^^^^B'^^^^'Ik''^ ^^ ^B^w^UkpMSs 

^^^H '^^ ^m'' .' ^f^^^Wj^B 'j^miM 

l^^M^'S ■a|f' ^A 'Wt 

'^^pil^^j l^vl.^ ' 1^ -IV 




set them to music. His devoted friend Zelter was always ready 
to write the music of his songs, and his melodies are very sing- 
able, but he was eclipsed in his task by others, especially by Franz 
Schubert, the master of lyric composition, and by Karl Loewe, 



the greatest composer of ballads. It will be interesting to com- 
pare Schubert's composition of Goethe's Erlkonig with that of 


Loewe, both different in style and yet each one in its way unsur- 


In 1 798 Goethe revisited Switzerland. On his way he saw 
his mother at Frankfort for the last time, and presented to her 
Christiana Vulpius and his son. 

■During the following years Schiller's star rose and threat- 
ened to eclipse that of Goethe who was not at that time pro- 
ductive. He was engaged in scientific and archeological labors 
and translations. He wrote some discussions on classical art, 
"The Doctrine of Color" and "Winckelmann and his Century," 
and translated Voltaire's "Mahomet and Tancred" and his drama 
"The Natural Daughter." The adversaries of Schiller and Goethe 
tried to make use of the changed situation and Kotzebue glorified 
Schiller at Goethe's expense in an attempt to sow enmity be- 
tween the two, but in vain. Goethe remained firm in his friend- 
ship and showed no sign of envy. On the contrary he felt the 
more attracted to Schiller because he found more reason to ad- 
mire him. 

As a tutor for his son, Goethe engaged in 1803 a young man 
who had already made a name for himself as a Greek lexicog- 
rapher, Friedrich Wilhelm Rienier (1774-1845). The young 
scholar soon became a useful helpmate for the literary work of 
his pupil's father and continued so beyond the end of the great 
poet's life as a redactor of his collected works and posthumous 

In 1805 Goethe was in poor health, and Schiller too was ill. 
Goethe was convinced that one of the two would die in tha<- 
year. Schiller seemed to recover and visited Goethe in his sick 
room. On April 19 they saw each other for the last time. 
Schiller was on the way to the theater while Goethe was too ill 
to accompany him. They parted at the door of Schiller's house. 

Goethe recovered. Destiny granted him another lease of life, 
but Schiller died May 9, 1805. 

Goethe missed his friend very much and expressed his ad- 
miration for him in many ways. He sought comfort in solitude 
and in scientific work, devoting much of his time to the theory 
of color. 

Schiller's remains were deposited in the Grand Ducal Mauso- 
leum at Weimar, and when in 1826, twenty years after his death, 
the mausoleum had to be rebuilt so as to make room for more 



bodies, the mayor of Weimar, Carl Leberecht Schwabe, selected 
a skull which on the authority of some highly respected physi- 
cians he was fully convinced belonged to the great poet. This 
skull was given to Goethe who kept it on his desk before him 
in constant remembrance of his beloved friend, and wrote a 
poem on it entitled, "On Contemplating Schiller's Skull." This 

Where the friends often conversed together. 

poem concludes with the following lines, in which we find the 
conception of God-Nature, so typical of Goethe, and a reference 
to the everlastingness of everything begotten by spirit: 

What greater in this life can mortal gain 
Then that to him God-Nature be revealed; 
The solid when resolved will spirit yield; 

Spirit-begotten things secure remain. 



[Was kann der Mensch im Leben mehr gewinnen, 
Als dass sich Gott-Natur ihm offenbare, 
Wie sie das Feste lasst zu Geist verrinnen, 
Wie sie das Geisterzeugte fest bewahre !] 

Sculpture by Eberlein. 



We must add that in recent times the suspicion has grown 
stronger and stronger that the skull could not have been that of 
Schiller and that Goethe had wasted his reverence on the relics of 
a lesser man. Doctor A. von Froriep, professor of anatomy at 

^' GOETHE IN 1800. 

After a crayon by F. Bury. 

Tiibingen and a native of Weimar, has finally succeeded in dis- 
covering the genuine skull of Schiller. ^^ 

On October 14, 1806, the battle of Jena was fought in the 
near neighborhood of Weimar. French troops took possession 
of Weimar, and the quiet town suffered much for a few days 

" For further details see The Open Court, Vol. XXVII, pp. 444-446. 


from plunder, incendiarism and murder. The life of Goethe 
himself was once endangered by drunken marauders, but Chris- 
tiana Vulpius saved him by her heroic interference and by reso- 
lutely showing the rude intruders the door. On the 19th of the 

■ Water-color by Heinrich Meyer made either in 1792 or 1793, imitat- 
ing the attitude and coloring of Raphael's Madonna delta sedia. 
The very youthful mother is dressed in violet and the child m 
light green. 

same month Goethe married her, and so Christiana became Frau 
Geheimerath Goethe with all the rights of a legitimate wife. 

In 1807 Goethe lost one of his noblest and most loyal friends 
in the person of the Duchess Dowager Amalia, who died April 10. 

It was just at this time that Goethe met Bettina Brentano 



who later greatly misrepresented him in her "Goethe's Corre- 
spondence with a Child."^^ 

At an advanced age. 

The year 1808 had another sad bereavement in store for 
Goethe, for his mother died on September 13. 
" See pp. 131-133. 


At this time the Congress of Erfurt was in session and 
Goethe accompanied the Duke on that important occasion. On 
October 2 he had a personal interview with Napoleon which was 
pleasing to both men, both great and yet so different in their 
talents and destinies. Napoleon said of Goethe, "Voild un 
homme !" and Goethe was overawed by the extraordinary power 
of this successful conqueror who had then reached the zenith 
of his glory. He beheved in genius, and in Napoleon he saw the 
incarnation of military and diplomatic greatness. When a few 
years afterwards the German people rose against Napoleon, 
Goethe did not believe it possible that he could be overthrown. 
He said: "Shake your chains! that man is too great, you can 
not break them." When a few years later in the War of Libera- 
tion his own son wanted to enter a battalion of volunteers, he 
refused to give his permission. 

Goethe was sufficiently German to rejoice in the German 
victory over the French conqueror, and even his admiration for 
the genius of the tyrant could not prevent him from taking an 
active part in the patriotic celebrations of the victory. He even 
went so far as to write verses for the purpose and praised Field 
Marshal Bliicher for his successful campaign. It must be ob- 
served, however, that his patriotic poetry does not possess the 
genuine ring of the other poets of his day, such men as Amdt 
and Koerner. It is artificial and stilted. A play which he wrote 
in celebration of the victory under the title "The Awakening of 
Epimenides," was performed in Berlin on March 15, 1815, but 
did not arouse any great enthusiasm, and though perfect in form 
belongs to the weaker productions of his muse. 

Nor did time change Goethe's appreciation of Napoleon him- 
self. In fact after Napoleon's death he wrote a poem on the 
great conqueror which not only paid tribute to his manhood but 
also is remarkable for its delicate humor. It reads thus : 

At last before the good Lord's throne 
On doomsday stood Napoleon. 
The Devil had much fault to find 
With him and with his kin and kind. 
Of all his sins he had a list 
On reading which he did insist. 
Quoth God, the Father,— or the Son, 


Perchance it was the Holy Ghost — 
He was indignant innermost: 
'I know it all, make no more stir ! 
You speak like a German professor, sir. 
Still, if you dare to take him, well — 
Then drag him down with you to hell.' 

[Am jiingsten Tag vor Gottes Thron 

Stand endlich Held Napoleon. 

Der Teufel hielt ein grosses Register 

Gegen denselbeu und seine Geschwister. 

War ein wundersam verruchtes Wesen: 

Satan fing an es abzulesen. 

Gott Vater, oder Gott der Sohn, 

Einer von den Beiden sprach vom Thron, 

Wenn nicht etwa der heilige Geist 

Das Wort genommen allermeist: 
"Wiederhol's nicht vor gottlichen Ohren ! 

Du sprichst wie die deutschen Professoren. 

Wir wissen Alles, mach' es kurz ! 

Am jiingsten Tag ist's nur ein .... 

Getraust du dich ihn anzugreifen, 

So magst du ihn zur Holle schleifen."] 

In 1808 Goethe wrote his humorous poem on telepathy en- 
titled "Effects at a Distance."^^ 

In 1809 he pubHshed his novel "Elective Affinities," the 
main character of w^hich is thought to be founded on that of 
Minna Herzlieb,^° for whom Goethe felt a fatherly attachment 
in the preceding year. The book was widely read and though 
severely censured by many, proved that the aged poet was still 
capable of producing literary work of high merit. 

During the time of the French invasion in 1808 Goethe 
finished his first part of Faust, which was published the same year 
under the title, "Faust, a Tragedy." Further he wrote a continua- 
tion of "Wilhelm Meister" under the title "Wilhelm Meister's 
Journey Years," and began his autobiography, the first instal- 
ment of which appeared in 1811. Originally he called it "Poetry 
and Truth," but when the work was completed he reversed it to 
read "Truth and Poetry." In the best known English trans- 
lation the title reads Truth and Fiction. It has ever remained 
the most valuable key to a comprehension of Goethe, although 

" See pp. 239-241. =» See pp. 133-134. 


the poet's biographers are often embarrassed by the unreliabiHty 
of its dates and sundry contradictions to estabHshed facts. How- 
ever we must bear in mind that Goethe does not mean us to 
take his story as a recapitulation of facts but as his recollection 
of facts as they lived in his imagination. Other smaller poems 
are "Johanna Sebus," "The Faithful Eckart," "The Wandering 
Bell," "Ergo Bibamus," and "In Nothing Have I placed my 

Goethe was too cosmopolitan to be a patriot. In 1812 he 
dedicated poems not only to the Emperor and Empress of 
Austria, but also to their daughter, the Empress Marie Louise, 
wife of Napoleon. 

During the troublous times of the Napoleonic wars Goethe 
had devoted himself to Oriental studies which bore fruit in the 
"West-Eastern Divan" (1814-1815) a collection of poems in 
which the literary student believes that he finds a prototype of 
Suleika in Marianne von Willemer,^^ Goethe's acquaintance with 
whom began at this time. 

On June 6, 1816, Goethe's wife, Christiana, died and he 
mourned her loss very sincerely. 

In 1817 Goethe resigned his position as director of the 

In 1819 Goethe wrote his poem "The Metamorphosis of 
Animals," a companion piece to his "Metamorphosis of Plants," 
and he completed his arguments on the intermaxillary bone, the 
existence of which helped to establish the doctrine of evolution, 
so much discussed at that time in the circles of naturalists. 

After 1821 he was engaged with an edition of his complete 
works in which he was assisted first by Riemer and afterwards 
by Eckermann. 

In 1 827 Johann Peter Eckermann (1792-1854) was introduced 
to Goethe and became his secretary, serving him faithfully to 
the very last. He is best known in German literature through 
the memoirs which he published under the title "Goethe's Talks 
with Eckermann." 

Goethe's references to America are very few, and among 
his poems there is only one which indicates that he ever took 

"" See pp. 134-136, 



an interest in the destiny of the new world. The immediate 
occasion of these lines was a journey of Karl Bernhard, duke 

Original preserved in the Goethe National Museum at Weimar. 

of Saxe-Weimar, the second son of the poet's patron and friend, 
the reigning grand-duke Karl August. This prince, born May 



30, 1792, had dreamed of a visit to the new world ever since 
his early boyhood, and at last in his thirty-second year his father 
gave him permission to cross the Atlantic. In April, 1825, Karl 
Bernhard left Ghent for the United States, and after a year's 



$ ):' V{i • 





^V /■■■['■■■ 




JR^l^H^Ka^^ ^ ^ ^^> 


\ r- 



■ ■" ■.., -■ J ^ 

i ^■^. 



^^HHPP^^^' ' ^^^^1 


Miik uli^rfj 

After an oil painting by J. J. Schmeller in 1831. 

Stay returned in June, 1826. The diaries of the prince's travels 
were submitted to Goethe who commented on them favorably, 
and they appeared in print in 1828.^^ 

^Compare on the subject Goethe's correspondence with Grand-Duke Karl 
August and with Zelter. The latter is to be found in English translation as 
well as in German editions. 


The impressions which the prince had received in the new 
world justified all his most optimistic expectations: the active, 
life, the spirit of enterprise, the boldness in building, the rapid 
increase of trade and commerce, the regulation of rivers, the 
expanse of the country with its untold opportunities, and above 
all the free and manly ways which the inhabitants exhibited in 
their daily life. Every honest worker felt himself the equal of 
every one else, and was treated as such ; it was a country of uni- 
versal brotherhood without class distinction. The prince was 
well received in society and also in military circles, and being a 
soldier who had fought in several battles (Jena and Wagrdm,. 
etc.) he was honored with the boom of cannon. So enthusiastic 
was the prince over his experiences in the new world that he 
seriously considered the plan of settling there and making it his 
permanent home, but the old world had after all too great attrac- 
tions for him, and having returned he took up his abode again 
in the chateau of his ancestors in Weimar. 

Like Goethe the prince was a member of the Masonic lodge 
Amalia of Weimar, and on his return the brethren greeted him 
at a lodge meeting with the recitation of a poem, specially made 
for the occasion by Goethe and afterwards printed in 1833 in 
Goethe's Posthumous Works. 

Goethe's poem on America was written at this time and 
under the influence which the perusal of the Prince's diary made 
on him. The ideas, there expressed are also found in a poem of 
de Laprade, entitled Les Demollisseurs, in which America is 
characterized as a country unhampered by the past. De Lapirade 
says: "There the people do not drag about the inconvenient 
burden of superannuated regrets." He speaks of their paths as 
free from prejudice and declares that "never a tomb, nor an 
old wall has to be torn down." Goethe further met with the 
statement that geologists had not discovered basalt rocks in the 
mountains of the new continent, and this strange error was inter- 
woven into his notion of the nature of the people. Basalt being 
a rock of volcanic eruption he thought that the element of social 
upheavals, of club law, and their historical analogies was ab- 
sent. At any rate he deemed the lack of medieval traditions, 
of a lingering remembrance of an age of robbers, knights and 


haunted castles as especially fortunate, and under these impres- 
sions he wrote his poem which we translate as follows : 

America, a better fate 
Of thee than of Europe's expected. 
No ruined castles of ancient date 
Nor basalts in thee are detected. 

The past disturbs thee not; nor rages 
In this, thy surging modern life, 
Vain memory of by-gone ages. 
Nor futile antiquated strife. 

The present utilize with care. 
And if thy children write poetry books, 
May, by good fortune, they beware 
Of tales of robbers, knights and spooks. 

[Amerika, du hast es besser 
Als unser Continent, der alte, 
Hast keine verfallene Schlosser 
Und keine Basalte. 

Dich stort nicht im Innern 
Zu lebendiger Zeit 
Unniitzes Erinnern 
Und vergeblicher Streit. 

Benutzt die Gegenwart mit Gliick, 

Und wenn nun eure Kinder dichten, 

Bewahre sie ein gut Geschick 

Vor Ritter-, Rauber- und Gespenstergeschichten.] 

This poem appears in Goethe's handwriting as the enclosure 
of a letter of June 21, 1827, addressed to his musical friend, the 
composer Zelter, to whom the poet intended to forward it in 
order to have it set to music. It was first printed in the Musen- 
Almanach, 1831, page 42; and later in Goethe's Correspondence 
with Zelter, IV, 341. In Goethe's Collected Works it appears in 
XXII, in the collection "Xenions and Kindred Poems" and bears 
the title, "The United States." 

Frau von Stein died in 1827, and the Duke, Goethe's patron 
and faithful friend, in June 1828. But the worst bereavement 
came in 1830 when on October 27 his only son August died 
away from home in the city of Rome, while traveling in Italy. 
The aged poet received the news with remarkable composure 


and gave expression to his resignation in the oft quoted words : 
"Non ignoravi me mortalem genuisse." 

On August 31, 1831, when in his eighty-third year, Goethe 
completed the second part of his "Faust" which he had begun 
in 1824 — one of the profoundest and most remarkable dramatic 

Medallion by Thorwaldsen. 

poems in the whole history of human literature. Apparently 
Goethe's genius had not suffered by old age. 

On Thursday, March 15, 1832, Goethe spent a cheerful and 
happy day. He awoke in the morning with a chill, from which 
he recovered, however, and was enabled to resume his usual work 
on Monday. Another chill awoke him in the middle of the night, 



but again he recovered, and had no anticipation of death. His 
daughter-in-law OttiHe attended him. On the morning of the 
22d he sat slumbering in his armchair holding Ottilie's hand. 
He ordered the servant to open the second shutter to let in more 

light. At half past eleven he turned towards the left corner of 
his armchair and went peacefully to sleep. It took some time 
before Ottilie knew that his life was ended. 

Goethe's eldest grandson, Walther, became a musician. He 


Studied under Mendelssohn, Weinlig and Loewe and published 
several compositions. He died April 15, 1885. Goethe's second 


After a drawing by Arendswald made in the year 1836, five years after 
Goethe's death. 

grandson, Wolfgang Maximilian, took a doctor's degree in law 
at Heidelberg and published an anonymous work of three volumes 


on "Man and Elementary Nature," a poem "Erlinde" and col- 
lections of "Poems." He died January 20, 1883. Little Alma 
died of typhoid fever while a child, September 29, 1844. Her 
full name was Alma Sedina Henrietta Cornelia. With these 
three grandchildren Goethe's posterity died out. 


WHEN reading any biography of Goethe we are apt to 
receive a wrong expression of his personaHty. We be- 
come acquainted with a number of interesting people whom he 
meets in different places, and among them many attractive 
women. We are told of his literary labors and bear in mind 
his rapidly spreading fame. Thus his life seems to be a series 
of pleasures and triumphs while the quiet and concentrated work 
in which he was usually engaged is scarcely considered. His la- 
bors were almost playfully performed and his very recreations 
entered into them as part of his experiences which made him 
pause. His very, sentiments are the material of his work, for, 
says he, "God made me say what in my heart I feel." Thus the 
seriousness of his life does not appear to a superficial observer, 
and yet those judge Goethe wrongly who would look upon his 
life as a mere series of flirtations, of lucky incidents and un- 
deserved successes of all kinds. He himself relates his life in a 
charming style which renders every insignificant detail inter- 
esting, but all those pleasant events are drawn upon a somber 
background which the less noticed it is serves to render the more 
fascinating the figures that appear upon it. 

Goethe's was a serious constitution, and the joyous events 
of his life are more incidental than the reader of "Truth and 
Fiction" might think. He was the butt of much envy and hostil- 
ity in his lifetime, and, above all, his relations to women have been 
severely censured, but they were much purer and more innocent 
than is commonly assumed. We must remember that all the 
denunciations hurled against him by his critics are based upon 



his own story. There are no accusations coming from those 
whom he is assumed to have wronged. 

Painted by G. O. May, 1779. 

When we wish to understand the part which women play in 
Goethe's Hfe we ought to speak first of all of the poet's relations 
with his mother. He knew very well what he owed to his father 



and what to his mother, tersely and poetically expressed in the 
lines : 

From father my inheritance 
Is stature and conduct steady; 

From mother my glee, that love of 
And a tongue that's ever ready. 

[Voni Vater hab ich die Statur, 
Des Lebens ernstes Fiihren, 
Vom Miitterchen die Frohnatur 
Und Lust zu fabuliren. 


After a picture in the possession of Solomon Hirzel. Original 
portraits of the Frau Rath are very rare. 

Great-grandpapa liked ladies fair, 
And this my soul is haunting; 

Great - grandmamma loved gems to 
Like her I'm given to flaunting. 

Urahnherr war der Schonsten hold. 
Das spukt so hin und wieder; 
Urahnfrau liebte Schmuck und Gold, 
Das zuckt wohl durch die Glieder. 



Now since this complex can't but be 
The sum of all these features, 

What is original in me 
Or other human creatures? 

Sind nun die Elemente nicht 
Aus dem Complex zu trennen, 
Was ist denn an dem ganzen Wicht 
Original zu nennen?] 

Goethe owed to his mother his poetic genius, his talent for 
story telHng, and his buoyancy of spirit. 

Frau Aja, as Goethe's mother was called by her son, was 

After a copper engraving in ■La.yater's Physiognomische Fragmente (1777). 

much younger than her husband, and we know that their mar- 
riage was not a love match. She was only seventeen and a half 
years old when on August 1748 she joined her life to that of the 

*The explanatory text reads: "Here is a pretty good like"^«= °f^*^Ji;- 
cellent, skilful, order-loving, discreet and clever executive '"^"' ^'^o .h"!^^^-"' 
made Ao pretense to a spark of poetic genius,-the father of the great man. 



Painted in 1762 by the Darmstadt artist J. C. Seekatz for 60 gulden. 

After the death of Goethe's mother this picture came into possession 
of Bettma von Arnim who left it to her son-in-law, Hermann Grimm. Goethe 
kept two of the artist's sketches of this picture in his collection. It is one of 
these which is here reproduced. The oil painting differs slightly. 

His relation to women. 


Counselor Johann Caspar Goethe who was her senior by nineteen 
years. The warmth of the young wife's heart did not find the 

After a drawing by E. Biichner. 

response she sought in the care of her sober and paternal mate, 
and so she lavished upon her son all th? sentiment and fervor 



of which her soul was capable. Of six children she lost four^ 
in early childhood, and only two, Wolfgang and Cornelia, sur- 
vived. These sad bereavements only served to intensify her love 
for her two remaining children. Others might have succumbed 
to the gloom of melancholy, or their disposition would have 
soured, not so Frau Aja. With all the tenderness of a young 
woman's affection she clung to her children, especially to her 
spritely boy, and she not only shared his joys when a child but 
also the unreserved confidence of the youth and the man. With 
him she renewed her girlhood days more as her son's companion 
in his sometimes giddy pranks than as his educator and parent. 
"My Wolfgang and I," she used to say, "always clung close to- 
gether, because we were young together." 

Frau Aja surrounded her son with her motherly love, remov- 
ing from his life even in later years everything that could worry 
him or cause him solicitude. For instance it is not commonly 
known how much she did for him in pecuniary sacrifices at the 
time when her illustrious son was well able to take care of his 
own accounts. During the Napoleonic war Frankfort had to pay 
a heavy contribution, and Goethe, owning some property there 
though not a citizen of the free city, was directly affected. His 
mother paid every penny of his share without ever referring to 
her son, simply to spare him the worry of making these increased 
payments. There is preserved in Weimar a little sheet con- 
taining a few figures in Frau Aja's own handwriting which tell 
us how much the poet's mother still cared for the comfort of 
her son, and continued to spoil him with her motherly love. They 
read as follows : 













f. S588 


f. 6188 

Hermann Jacob, born in November, 1752, died in January, 1759; Catha- 
nna Elisabeth, born in September, 1754, died in December, 1755; Johanna 
T ^"^li'.'i™,.'" March, 1757, died in August, 1759; and Georg Adolf, born in 
June, 1760, died in February, 1761, ' § . , v. , . 


The sum of 6188 florins is more than twenty-five hundred 

It is true that Goethe's poetic nature needed the stimulation 
of a woman's interest, but his relations to his women friends 
were not frivolous. He was not unprincipled, but he dreaded 
the indissoluble bond of marriage, and he carefully avoided giv- 
ing any woman just cause to make a claim on his constancy. 
He himself expressed this sentiment in a humorous poem entitled 
Vorschlag sur Gute which might be translated simply "Proposal" 
or "For Consideration." It reads in an English' translation 
thus : 

He : So well thou pleasest me, tny dear, 
That as we are together here 
I'd never like to part; 
'Twould suit us both, sweet heart. 

She : As I please you, so you please me. 
Our love is mutual, don't you see? 
Let's marry, and change rings, 
Nor worry about other things. 

He: We marry, darling, and for aye? 

My heart grows faint, I must away. 

She: Why hesitate? For then of course 
If it won't work, we'll try divorce. 

[Er: Du gefallst mir so wohl, niein liebes Kind, 
Und wie wir hier bei einander sind, 
So mocht' ich nimmer scheiden ; 
Da war' es wohl uns Beiden. 

Sie: Gefall' ich dir, so. gefiillst du mir; 
Du sagst es frei, ich sag' es dir. 
Eh nun! heirathen wir eben! 
Das iibrige wird sich geben. 

Er: Heirathen, Engel, ist wunderHch Wort; 

Ich meint', da musst' ich gleich wieder fort. 

Sie: Was ist's denn so grosses Leiden? 

Geht's nicht, so lassen wir uns scheiden.] 


Being fearful that he might marry some one who would be- 
come a hindrance to him in his poetic work, Goethe was careful 
not to be carried away by passion, and he expresses this principle 
in another poem entitled Wahrer Genuss, i. e., "True Enjoy- 
ment," where he says: 

Wouldst not be tied in holy bondage, 
Oh youth, practice control of thee. 
Thus mayest thou preserve thy freedom. 
Nor yet without attachment be. 

[Soli dich kein heilig Band umgeben, 
O Jiingling, schranke selbst dich ein ! 
Man kann in wahrer Freiheit leben 
Und doch nicht ungebunden sein.] 

We have reason to believe that Goethe's relations with women 
were dominated by this maxim, and in more advanced years 
when his fame had made him more attractive he fortified him- 
self against temptations and all advances by the fair sex as 
expressed in the following rhyme : 

Only this time be not caught as yet, 
And a hundred times you escape the net. 

[Einmal nicht gefangen 
1st hundertmal entgangen.] 

Goethe's first love was of a very harmless character. It was 
in the year 1764 when he was a mere boy of fifteen, and his 
adored one, Gretchen, was a few years his senior, probably seven- 
teen or eighteen years old, — a good-natured girl whom the vicis- 
situdes of life had rendered both modest and pensive, so as to 
impress the bold stripling with the dignity of a pure soul. For 
instance once, when she had rebuked him for entering into the 
silly jokes of- his friends he was so infatuated with the lovely 
girl that he wanted to embrace her, but she stood aloof. "Don't 
kiss me," said she, "that is vulgar; but love me if you can." 

Gretchen seems to have been an orphan, presumably the 
daughter of an inn-keeper at Offenbach, and was brought up 



in the house of relatives. Her family name is not known. At 
her home the young Goethe became acquainted with a man 

By Kaulbach. 

whom he recommended to his father for a position, and when 
the youth's protege turned out to be a scoundrel, an investigation 


ensued in which Gretchen spoke of the young Wolfgang as a 
"boy," which offended him greatly. The following comment in 
"Truth and Fiction" describes Goethe's sentiments at the dis- 
illusionment of his first affection. Having related the result 
of the investigation as told by his tutor, he continues : 

"At last I could contain myself no longer, and asked what 
had become of Gretchen, for whom I, once for all, confessed the 
strongest attachment. My friend shook his head and smiled. 'Set 
your mind at rest,' replied he, 'that girl has- passed her exam- 
ination very well, and has borne honorable testimony to that ef- 
fect. They could discover nothing in her but what was good and 
amiable. She even won the favor of those who questioned her, 
and who could not refuse to grant her desire to remove from the 
city. Even what she confessed regarding you, my friend, does 
her honor. I have read her deposition in the secret reports my- 
self, and have seen her signature.' — 'That signature!' exclaimed 
I, 'which makes me so happy and so miserable. What has she 
confessed, then? What has she signed?' My friend hesitated 
to reply, but the cheerfulness of his face showed me that he con- 
cealed nothing dangerous. 'If you must know, then,' replied he 
at last, 'when she was asked about you and her intercourse with 
you, she said quite frankly, "I cannot deny that I have seen him 
often and with pleasure; but I have always treated him as a 
child, and my affection for him was truly that of a sister. In 
many cases F gave him good advice and, instead of instigating 
him to any equivocal action, I have hindered him from taking 
part in wanton tricks, which might have brought him intxa 
trouble." ' 

"My friend still went on making Gretchen speak like a gover- 
ness; but for some time I had ceased to listen to him. I was 
terribly affronted that she had set me down in the reports as a 
child, and I at once believed myself cured of all passion for her. 
I even hastily assured my friend that all was over now. I also 
spoke no more of her, named her no more ; but I could not leave 
off the bad habit of thinking about her, and of recalling her face, 
her hair, her demeanor, though now, to be sure, all appeared to 
me in quite another light. I felt it intolerable that a girl, at the 
most only a couple of years older than I, should regard me as 



a child; while I had imagined that I passed with her for a very 
sensible and clever youth." 

A reminiscence of Gretchen is preserved in Goethe's "Faust" 
in so far as the heroine bears her name. 

Goethe's relation to his sister might well serve all brothers 
as a model. We cannot characterize her better than in his own 
words : 

Drawn by Goethe, presumably in 1770. From the portfolio Juvenilia. 

"She was tall, well and delicately formed, and had something 
naturally dignified in her demeanor, which melted away into 
pleasing mildness. The lineaments of her face, neither striking 
nor beautiful, indicated a character which was not, nor ever could 
be, in union with itself. Her eyes were not the finest I have ever 
seen, but the deepest, behind which you expected the most; and 
when they expressed any affection, any love, their brilliancy was 


unequalled. And yet, properly speaking, this expression was 
not tender, like that which comes from the heart carrying with 
it at the same time something of longing and desire. This ex- 


pression came from the soul ; it was full and rich and seemed as 
if it would only give without needing to receive. 


"But what disfigured her face in a pecuhar manner so that 
she would often appear positively ugly, was the fashion of those 
times, which not only bared the forehead, but, either accidentally 
or on purpose, did everything apparently or really to enlarge it. 
Now, as she had the most feminine, most perfect arched fore- 
head, and, moreover, a pair of strong black eyebrows and prom- 
inent eyes, these circumstances occasioned a contrast, which if 
it did not repel every stranger at the first glance, at least did not 
attract him. She felt it at an early age ; and this feeling became 
constantly the more painful to her, the farther she advanced into 
the years when both sexes find an innocent pleasure in being 
mutually agreeable. 

"To nobody can his own form be repugnant. The ugliest, 
as well as the most beautiful, has a right to enjoy his own pres- 
ence; and as favor beautifies, and every one regards himself in 
the looking glass with favor, it may be asserted that every one 
must see himself with complacency, even if he would struggle 
against the feeling. Yet my sister had such a decided founda- 
tion of good sense, that she could not possibly be blind or silly 
in this respect. On the contrary she perhaps knew more clearly 
than she ought, that she stood far behind her female playmates 
in external beauty, without feeling consoled by the fact that she 
infinitely surpassed them in internal advantages. 

"If a woman can find compensation for the want of beauty, 
she richly found it in the unbounded confidence, the regard and 
love, which all her female friends bore to her ; whether they were 
older or younger, all cherished the same sentiments. A very 
pleasant society had collected around her. Young men were not 
wanting who knew how to insinuate themselves into it and nearly 
every girl found an admirer; she alone had remained without a 
partner. While, indeed, her exterior was in some measure repul- 
sive, the mind that gleamed through it was also more repelling 
than attractive ; for the presence of dignity puts a restraint upon 
others. She felt, this sensibly ; she made no attempt to conceal 
it from me, and her love was directed to me with all the greater 
force. The case was singular enough. As confidants to whom 
one reveals a love-affair actually by genuine sympathy become 
lovers also, nay, grow into rivals, and at last, perchance, trans- 



fer the passion to themselves, so it was with us two. For, when 
my connection with Gretchen was torn asunder, my sister con- 
soled me the more earnestly, because she secretly felt the satis- 
faction of having got rid of a rival; and I, too, could not but 
feel a quiet, half-mischievous pleasure, when she did me the 

After a medallion by Becker. 

justice to assure me that I was the only one who truly loved, 
understood, and esteemed her." 

In November, 1773, Cornelia was married to Schlosser, and 
the newly married couple left for Strassburg. Her marriage was 
not fortunate and she sought refuge in her brother's friendship. 



but he could offer no help. She died prematurely in Emmen- 
dingen in 1777. 

Her husband was a lawyer who served as private secretary 
to the Duke of Wiirttemberg. In 1773 he accepted a position as 
a state counselor of Baden at Carlsruhe, and after .an appoint- 
ment as Oberamtmann at Emmendingen, he returned to Carlsruhe 

After an oil painting. 

in 1787 as director of the ducal court and retired in 1794. He 
died at Frankfort in 1799 at the age of sixty. 

* * * 

One of Cornelia's friends was Charitas Meixner, a young 
girl born in 1750 at Worms. While Goethe studied in Leipsic 
he devoted some passing attention to her, as appears from his 
correspondence with her cousin, a young Mr. Trap. We know 
too little about her to form an adequate idea of her character 



and the influence she might have had on the young poet. She 
afterwards married a merchant of Worms by the name of 
Schuler, and died at the age of twenty-seven years. 

At Frankfort CorneHa was visited by some friends who 
played a part in her brother's Hfe. They were Frau Betty Jacobi, 
the wife of Fritz Jacobi, and Johanna Fahh-ner, a younger sister 
of Fritz Jacobi's mother, with her niece, Fritz Jacobi's half- 
sister Lolo. Fraiilein Fahlmer was a daughter of her father's 
second wife and considerably younger than her nephews. Being 

>^^if '-x 



Jacobi's aunt she was called "Auntie" (Tantchen) even as a 
young girl, and in Goethe's letters she always figured as Auntie 
Fahlmer. These three young women contributed not a little to 
cement a friendship between Goethe and Fritz Jacobi which in 
spite of profound difference of religious conviction lasted to the 
end of their lives. The maiden name of Helene Elisabeth Jacobi 
(called Betty) was Von Clermont. . She was born October 5, 
1743, and died prematurely on February 9, 1784. She was of 
Dutch nationality and was married in 1 764 to Fritz Jacobi. Her 
visit to Frankfort falls in the year 1773. Goethe was very fond 



of her and describes her in "Truth and Fiction" as genuinely 
Dutch in her appearance, "without the sHghtest sentimentality in 
her feehng, true, cheerful in speech, a splendid Dutch woman, 
who without any trace of sensuality reminds one of the plump 
type of Rubens's women." 

Auntie Fahlmer was born June 16, 1744, at Dtisseldorf and 
died October 31, 1821, in her native city. She visited Frankfort 


during the summer of 1772 and the spring of 1774. She was a 
friend of both Wolfgang and Cornelia Goethe and became more 
and more attached to the latter after her marriage, and during 
the years 1773-1777 she carried on a lively correspondence with 
Goethe. Somewhat more than a year after Cornelia's death, 
June 8, 1777, she became the wife of the widower Johann George 


Schlosser. The only procurable picture of her is a portrait made 
at an advanced age. 

* * * 

Kitty Schonkopf, the "Aennchen" of Goethe's autobiography, 
was a pretty and attractive girl, but, being the daughter of the 
proprietor of a restaurant where Goethe took his dinners during 
the summer of 1766, she was not of a distinguished family. 
Their courtship was much disturbed by jealousy and whims, 
which finally led to a rupture. ' The main cause of the trouble 
seems to have been the restless character of the young poet, who 
felt that his interest would not be lasting, and who was almost 
afraid to tie himself permanently to her by marriage. Kitty 
was married in 1770 to Dr. Karl Kanne, later vice-mayor of 

This flirtation at Leipsic (in 1766) with "Aennchen" was of 
a transient nature and did not leave a deep impression on the 
poet's heart. So we may regard his romance with Friederike 
Brion of Sesenheim as the first true love affair of his life. 

* * * 

At Strassburg Goethe had taken dancing lessons at the house- 
of a French dancing master, whose two daughters were in love 
with the young poet, and one day the older one, jealous of her 
sister, kissed him, and solemnly cursed the w^oman who would 
be the first to kiss him again. The scene is dramatically told in 
Goethe's autobiography, . and the unhappy victim of this curse 
was to be Friederike. 

A- student by the name of Wieland introduced Goethe to the 
Brion family. The father, a Huguenot of French extraction, 
was a Protestant clergyman at Sesenheim, a village about twenty 
miles from Strassburg. He had six children; one of his daugh- 
ters was married, while the two youngest lived at home. The 
name of the elder of these two was Maria Salome, and Friederike, 
the youngest daughter of the Brion family (born April 19, 1752), 
was just nineteen years of age, with blue questioning eyes and a 
most alluring smile, not exactly beautiful, but very attractive, and 
unusually responsive. No wonder that the young poet's heart 
was at once aflame. The time was spent in lively conversation on 




Friederike is reading The Vicar of WakeHeld, to the characters of 
which story Goethe compared the inmates of the Sesenheim par- 



Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield and other hterary topics, in 
moonlight promenades, dances and rural frolics, until Goethe was 
so thrilled with youth and love that, forgetful of the French 
damsel's curse, he yielded to the temptation and pressed a kiss 
upon her yielding lips. -. 


After an oil painting formerly in the possession of A. Storber, now in the. 
Freie Deutsche Hochstift at Frankfort on the Main. 

Can we doubt that the lines of his poem "To the Moon" 
have reference to Friederike's love when he says : 

Once that prize did I possess 
Which I yearn for yet, 
■ And alas ! to my distress-, 
Never can forget. 

[Ich besass es doch einmal. 
Was so kostlich ist ! 
Dass man doch zu seiner Qual 
Nimmer es vergisst!] 

No wonder that Goethe never forgot this idyllic courtship 
and that the remembrance of it seemed to gain in power with 



his advancing age. George Henry Lewes, on his visit to Weimar 
met some persons then living who had known the great poet 
personally. He says with reference to Friederike : "The secre- 

Found among Lenz's papers. 


tary to whom this episode was dictated, told me how much 
affected Goethe seemed to be as these scenes revisited his memory. 
Walking up and down the room with his hands behind him, he 
often stopped his walk and paused in the dictation; then after, 
a long silence, followed by a deep sigh, he continued the narra- 
tive in a lower tone." 

It is to be regretted that we have no portrait of Friederike 
which can be considered as unequivocally authentic. Among 
the papers of the poet Lenz, however, a pencil drawing has been 
found which represents a youthful girl in Alsacian costume who 
may very probably be this much wooed daughter of the Sesen- 
heim parson. There is a great . probability that such is the case 


but we have no positive evidence. The handwriting of Friede- 
rike, however, is still preserved, and we reproduce here one of 
the best known specimens of it from an envelope addressed to 

There are many readers of Goethe's autobiography who be- 
come so charmed with the loveliness of Friederike that they 
cannot forgive the poet for not having married her. Some. have 
gone so far as to attack him most violently and censure him for 
a breach of faith. They forget that their accusations are based 
on evidence furnished exclusively by the accused person himself. 
That Goethe had never a harsh word for her certainly does not 
speak against him, and we must assume that there were weighty 
reasons which led to the rupture. In fact he accuses himself, 




— / 



1— 1 










































By Eugen Klimsch. 



not at all considering himself blameless although he felt that he 
could not have acted differently; We will quote the most im- 
portant passage on the subject from his autobiography. When 
he wrote her that he would have to leave she answered in a most 
touching way. Goethe says : 

"Friederike's answer to my farewell letter rent my heart. It 
was the same hand, the same tone of thought, the same feeling 
which was formed for me and by me. I now for the first time 
felt the loss which she suffered, and saw no means to supply it or 
even alleviate it. I was always conscious that I missed her ; and, 
what was worst of all, I could not forgive myself for my own 
misfortune. G'retchen had been taken away from me; Annette 

had left me ; now, for the first time, I was the guilty one. I' had 
wounded her lovely heart to its very depths ; and the period of a 
gloomy repentance, with the absence of the refreshing love to 
which I had grown accustomed, was most agonizing, nay, in- 

Further on Goethe continues: 

"At the time when I was pained by my grief at Friederike's 
situation, I again sought aid from poetry after my old fashion. 
I again continued my wonted poetical confession in order that by 
this self-tormenting penance I might be worthy absolution in 
my own eyes. The two Marias in 'G5tz von Berlichmgen' and 
'Clavigo,' and the two bad characters who act the parts of their 
lovers, may have been the results of such penitent reflections. 


When Goethe speaks of first love as the only true love he 
apparently has reference to his love for Friederike, not to his 
prior and more boyish flirtations with Gretchen and Annette 
Schonkopf; and this explains why he cherished this episode of 
his life with such tenderness. Goethe says : 

"The first love, it is rightly said, is the only one; for in the 
second, and by the second, the highest sense of love is already 
lost. The conception of the eternal and infinite which elevates 
and supports love is destroyed; and it appears transient like 
everything else that recurs." 

The correspondence between Goethe and Friederike has been 
destroyed, which fact proves that both parties shunned publicity. 
However, Goethe remembered Friederike's love, and set up for 
her an everlasting monument in the story of his Sesenheim 
romance, while ever afterward he carefully endeavored to crowd 
out from his mind all memories that would disfigure these recol- 
lections so dear to him. In Goethe's autobiography Friederike 
appears of such natural and lovely charm that her personality 
has remained one of the favorite women characters of German 
literature. She died April 3, 1813, at the house of her sister, 
Frau Pfarrer Marx at Meissenheim, and on her tombstone two 
simple lines are inscribed : 

Upon her fell a ray of poesy, 
So bright it lent her immortality. 

. [Ein Strahl der Dichtersonne fiel auf sie, 
So hell dass er Unsterblichkeit ilir lieh.] 

Goethe's description of Friederike has made Sesenheim a 
place of pilgrimage to lovers of German literature, and the first 
distinguished visitor of the old Brion parsonage was the poet 
Ludwig Tieck in the summer of 1822, but he expressed his dis- 
appointment by saying that in a certain sense he "repented 
having visited Sesenheim." He adds, "'repented' is not the 
word, but an unpoetic sadness fills me to find that everything 
there is so different from the picture my imagination formed 
according to the incomparable description of our poet." 

In the autumn of the same year (1822) Professor Naeke, of 


Bonn, visited Sesenheim and was greatly disillusioned at the 
report of Pastor Schweppenhauser, the successor of Friederike's 
father in that rural parsonage. The real Friederike was some- 
what different from the poetical figure of Goethe's autobiography. 
Naeke wrote down his impressions under the title of "A Pil- 
grimage to Sesenheim," and having stated the result of his in- 
vestigations concludes his report with an expression of satis- 
faction that she had no reason to reproach Goethe for her mis- 
fortunes. Naeke's "Pilgrimage to Sesenheim" remained un- 
printed until 1840, when it was published by Varnhagen von 
Ense, but a copy of the manuscript had been sent to Goethe at 
the time, and he made the following comment which appears to 
be all he ever cared to say on the subject:^ 

"In order to give brief expression to my thoughts about the 
news from Sesenheim I shall make use of a symbol of general 
physics derived more particularly, however, from entoptics; I 
shall speak here of repeated reflections of light. 

"1. A blessed youthful delusion (Wahnleben) unconsciously 
reflects itself forcibly in the young man. 

"2. The image long cherished, and probably revived, surges 
ever to and fro, gracious and lovely, before his inner vision for 
many years. 

"3. Tenderly received in early years and long retained, finally 
in vivid remembrance it is given external expression and is once 
more reflected. 

"4. This image radiates in all directions into the world, and 
a fine, noble heart may be charmed by this appearance as if it were 
the reality, and receives from it a deep impression. 

"5. From this is developed an inclination to actualize all that 
may still be conjured up out of the past. 

"6. The longing grows, and that it may be gratified it be- 
comes indispensably necessary to return once more to the spot 
in order to make his own the vicinity at least. 

"7. Here by happy chance is found on the commemorated 

'This short article is inscribed Wiederholte Spiegelungen |i. ?;■ "f„Tfof 
or continued mirrorings"), and is registered ""^er hat title n the index of 
any edition of Goethe's complete works.. It was publ^hed first m his posthu 
mous works 1833, Vol. IX, and is contained m his complete works as No. 11/ 
in the volume entitled Aufsatze sur Ltteratur. 


spot a sympathetic and weli-informed man upon whom the image 
has hkewise been impressed. 

"8. Now in the locality which had been in some respects deso- 
lated, it becomes possible to restore a true image, to construct a 
second presence from the wrecks of truth and tradition, and to 
love Friederike in her entire lovableness of yore. 

"9. Thus in spite of all earthly intervention she can again be 
once more reflected in the soul of her old lover, and charmingly 
revive in him a pure, noble and living presence. 

"When we consider that repeated moral mirrorings not only 
vividly revive the past but even ascend to a higher life, then we 
think of the entoptic phenomena which likewise do not fade from 
mirror to mirror but are kindled all the more. Thus we shall 
obtain a symbol of what has often been repeated in the history 
of the arts and sciences, of the church and even of the political 
world, and is still repeated every day. 

"January 31, 1823." 

We can now understand those other lines in Goethe's ode 
"To the Moon," when the poet sighs : 

Flow along, dear river, flow; [Fliesse, fliesse, lieber Fluss; 

Joy for aye is sped. Nimmer werd' icli froh ! 

Glee and kisses even so, So verrauschte Scherz und Kuss, 

Yea, and troth have fled. Und die Treue so.] 

Historical investigations have led to a bitter discussion, the 
extremes of which are represented on the one side by I. Froitz- 
heim,^ on the other by Diintzer, Erich Schmidt, Bielowski, etc. 
Although an idealist would be naturally inclined to take Diin- 
tzer's view of the case, we can not ignore Goethe's own state- 
ments which, though very guardedly, concede the reliability of 
Naeke's information. We know further that Friederike was 
engaged for some time to Jacob Michael Reinhold Lenz, one of 
the minor German poets and a personal friend of Goethe, but that 
he too found cause to break off the engagement. 

It is impossible to deny the pertinence of these and other 

" In protest against the exaggerated glorification of Friederike by certain 
hero-worshipers, Dr. I. Froitzheim followed up the scent of Professor Naeke 
and published the result of his investigations under the title, Friederike von 
Sesenheim nach geschichtlichen Quellen (Gotha, F. A. Perthes, 1893). 


facts, but on the other hand we need not (as does Froitzheim) 
begrudge to Friederike the honor of the inscription on her tomb- 
stone. Friederike was human, perhaps too human, but her foible 
was the same as Goethe's. The suffering she endured for her 
fault was sufficient atonement. We must remember that even the 
severest critics of her character grant that she was full of grace 
and loveliness, not a striking beauty but of rare charm, capable 
of intense devotion, charitable, self-sacrificing and thirsting for 
love. Even when her youth was gone she could fascinate men 
of talent and set their hearts aflame with passion. There is no 
need to require her to be a saint, and we might as well repeat of 
her the words of Christ, "Her sins which are many are forgiven, 
for she loved much." 

While convalescent in Frankfort from his Leipsic illness, 
Goethe became acquainted with Fraulein Susanna Catharina von 
Klettenberg, an old lady and a friend of his mother. She be- 
longed to the Moravian church and took a great interest in 
religious mysticism which made a deep impression on Goethe 
without, however, converting him to pietism. Her personality 
is mirrored in the "Confessions of a Beautiful Soul" incorporated 
in his novel "Wilhelm Meister." Goethe here made use of her 
letters, explained and enlarged by personal conversation with 
her, and it is commonly assumed that as to facts and sometimes 
even in the letter of descriptions she is virtually to be considered 
as the author of this autobiography. 

"The Confessions of a Beautiful Soul" is of extraordinary 
interest and belongs to Goethe's most attractive sketches, depict- 
ing a pure and truly pious personality. In her childhood the 
author of these "Confessions" had been thrown upon herself by 
a severe disease which cut her off from the sports of childhood. 
"My soul became all feeling, all memory," says she, "I suffered 
and I loved : this was the peculiar structure of my heart. In the 
most violent fits of coughing, in the depressing pains of fever, 
I lay quiet, like a snail drawn back within its house : the moment 
I obtained a respite, I wanted to enjoy something pleasant; and, 
as every other pleasure was denied me, I endeavored to amuse 


myself with the innocent delights of eye and ear. People brought 
me dolls and picture-books, and whoever would sit by my bed 
was obliged to tell me something." 

She regained her health and tells of her studies, but her en- 
joyments lacked the giddiness of childhood. Only gradually did 
she become fond of dancing, and for a while at this time her 
fancy was engaged by two brothers, but both died and faded 
from her memory. Later on she became acquainted with a young 
courtier whom she calls Narcissus, and on one occasion when 
he was attacked and wounded by a quick tempered officer, she 
became engaged to him and cherished this young man with great 
tenderness. In the meantime her relation to God asserted itself 
at intervals. For a while she says (and these are her very words) 
"Our acquaintance had grown cool," and later on she continues : 
"With God I had again become a little more acquainted. He 
had given me a bridegroom whom I loved, and for this I felt 
some thankfulness. Earthly love itself concentrated my soul, 
and put its powers in motion ; nor did it contradict my intercourse 
with God." 

But Narcissus was a courtier and wanted a society wornan 
for a wife, while she found social enjoyments more and more 
insipid. They disturbed her relations with God, so much so in- 
deed that she felt estranged from him. She says : "I often went 
to bed with tears, and, after a sleepless night, arose again with 
tears : I required some strong support ; and God would not vouch- 
safe it me while I was running with cap and bells And 

doing what I now looked upon as folly, out of no taste of my 
own, but merely to gratify him, it all grew wofully irksome to 

The lovers became cool and the engagement was broken off, 
— not that she no longer loved him. She says in this auto- 
biography: "I loved him tenderly; as it were anew, and much 
more steadfastly than before. 

Nevertheless he stood between herself and God and for the 
same reason she refused other suitable proposals. Her reputa- 
tion did not suffer through the rupture with her fiance. On the 
contrary the general interest in her grew considerably because 
she was regarded as "the woman who had valued God above her 



bridegroom." In passing over further particulars of the Hfe of 
the "Beautiful Soul," we will quote her view of hell: 

"Not for a moment did the fear of hell occur to me; nay, 
the very notion of a wicked spirit, and a place of punishment 
and torment after death, could nowise gain admission into the 
circle of my thoughts. I considered the men who lived without 

In the National Museum at Weimar. 

God, whose hearts were shut against the trust in and the love of 
the Invisible, as already so unhappy, that a hell and external 
pains appeared to promise rather an alleviation than an increase 
of their misery. I had but to look upon the persons in this world 
who in their breasts gave scope to hateful feelings; who hardened 
their hearts against the good of whatever kind, and strove to 


force the evil on themselves and others ; who shut their eyes by- 
day, so that they might deny the shining of the sun. How un- 
utterably wretched did these persons seem to me! Who could 
have devised a hell to make their situation worse?" 

Finally through the influence of her uncle and a friendly 
counsellor whom she calls Philo she found composure of mind 
which she expresses thus : 

"It was as if my soul were thinking separately from the 
body; the soul looked upon the body as a foreign substance, as 
we look upon a garment. The soul pictured with extreme vivacity 
events and times long past, and felt, by means of this, events that' 
were to follow. Those times are all gone by ; what follows like- 
wise will go by ; the body, too, will fall to pieces like a vesture ; 
but I, the well-known I, I am." 

She does not consider her life as a sacrifice but on the con- 
trary as me attainment of an unspeakable joy. She says at the 
conclusion of her autobiography : 

"I scarcely remember a commandment : to me there is nothing 
that assumes the aspect of law; it is an impulse that leads me, 
and guides me always aright. I freely follow my emotions, 
and know as little of constraint as of repentance. God be praised 
that I know to whom I am indebted for such happiness, and that 
I cannot think of it without humility ! There is no danger I 
should ever become proud of what I myself can do or can for- 
bear to do : I have seen too well what a monster might be formed 
and nursed in every human bosom, did not a higher influence 
restrain us." 

The nobility of character of Fraulein von Klettenberg, of 
this "Beautiful Soul," contributed not a little to purify the young 
poet's mind, and her interest in mysticism caused him to study 
alchemy and to read the works of Theophrastus, Paracelsus, 
Agrippa von Nettesheim and other occultists, the study of whose 
books proved helpful in the composition of "Faust." We have 
evidence that this thoughtful and mystical lady had fantastic in- 
clinations, for when one of her friends, Fraulein von Wunderer, 
entered the Cronstatt Institute, Susanne had her own portrait 
painted for her in the dress of a nun. The picture came into 
Goethe's possession in 1815. 



At Wetzlai- on the Lahn Goethe met Charlotte Buff, the 
daughter of an imperial government official. She acted as a 
real mother to her many younger brothers and sisters and was 
engaged to be married to Kestner, secretary to the Hanoverian 
legation. Goethe felt greatly attracted to tlie young lady and, 
being at the same time a good and fast friend of Kestner, was 

/r«^^iyi' '^'i. 


Later on wife of Johann Christian Kestner. Redrawn from a 

pastel in the possession of Georg Kestner of Dresden. 

a constant visitor at the home of her father in the Deutsche 
Haus. Charlotte was made the heroine of "The Sorrows of 
Werther," and as Goethe's acquaintance with her was followed 
by the sad fate of his friend Jerusalem, the combination sug- 
gested to him the tragic. plot of this novel. j 






In those days Goethe was in an irritable and ahuost patho- 
logical condition. He experienced in his own mind a deep long- 
ing for an escape from the restlessness of life, and in his auto- 
biography he speaks of "the efforts and resolutions it cost him 
to escape the billows of death." His friend Merck came to the 
rescue. From the dangerous atmosphere of Wetzlar he took him 

on a visit to the jolly circle of Fran Sophie von La Roche at 

Goethe had met Frau von La Roche in the precedmg April 
(1772) in Homburg, and he was glad to renew the fnendship 
at this critical moment of his life. Born December 6, 1731, 
Sophie von La Roche was the daughter of Dr. Gutermann, a 
physician of Kaufbeuren, and was a relative and childhood com- 



panion of Wieland, whose friend she remained throughout her 
Hfe. In 1754 she married Georg Michael Frank von Lichtenfels, 
surnamed La Roche. As an author she is best known by "Ro- 
salie's Letters to Her Friend Mariane." She had two beautiful 
daughters. While in Ehrenbreitstein Goethe passed the time 
with Maximiliana in a harmless but entertaining flirtation, before 

Daughter of Sophie von La Roche, and mother of Bettina von Arnim. 

she was married to an older and jealous husband, Mr. Brentano. 
Frau von La Roche removed with her husband to Speyer and 
later to Offenbach where she died February 18, 1807. 

The novels and moral tales of Frau von La Roche were 
much read in those days. In a somewhat sentimental language 



She advocated marriage for love's sake, but she herself did what 
she condemned other mothers for; she urged her daughters to 
accept aged husbands for the sake of worldly advantages Bet- 
tma, the daughter of Maximiliana, will be mentioned further on 


During the winter of 1774-75 Goethe became acquainted 
with Anna Elisabeth Schonemann, the daughter of a rich banker, 
a pretty girl of sixteen but a spoiled child and a flirt. He called 
her Lili, and devoted several poems to her which are exceedingly 
poetical but at the same time betray his dissatisfaction with the 



charms of the fascinating young lady. In "Lili's Park" he com- 
pares her many lovers to a menagerie and himself to a bear 

LILI'S MENAGERIE. 1\\- Kaulbach. 

who d()es not fit intn tlie circle of his mistress at the Schonemann 


In April 1775 Goethe was officially engaged to Lili, but the 
engagement lasted only into May; since both families were op- 
posed to it, it was soon revoked. Three years later, she was 
married to the Strassburg banker Bernhard Friedrich von Tiirck- 
heim. She died near Strassburg in 1817. 

The poems "New Love, New Life" ; "To Belinde," and "Lih's 
Park" are dedicated to her, and some later songs made in Wei- 
mar, "Hunter's Evening Song" and "To a Golden Heart" Goethe 
wrote in remembrance of Lili. 

While Goethe's heart was still troubled with his love for Lili, 
he received an anonymous letter signed "Gustchen." The writer 
gained his confidence and he answered with unusual frankness, 
telling her of all that moved him and especially of the joys and 
disappointments of his courtship with Lili. This correspondence 
developed into a sincere and pure friendship with his unknown 
correspondent, and Goethe soon found out that Gustchen was 
the countess Augusta Stolberg, the sister of his friends, the 
brothers Stolberg. 

Li the summer of 1775 when Goethe visited his friends Bod- 
mer and Lavater in Zurich, the, latter introduced him to his friend 
Frau Barbara Schulthess, nee Wolf, the wife of a merchant in 
Zurich. At first sight she was not particularly attractive nor was 
she brilliant in conversation, but she had a strong character and 
impressed her personality upon all with whom she came in con- 
tact. -Her connection with Goethe has not been sufficiently 
appreciated, presumably because two years before her death 
(1818) she burned all the letters she had received from him. 
We know, however, that Goethe submitted to her most of his 
new productions, among them "Iphigenia," "Tasso" and "Wilhelm 
Me'ister," and he appears to have been greatly influenced by her 
judgment. He calls her die Hcrdiclie, "my cordial friend." He 
is known to have met her- on only two occasions afterwards, m 
1782 and again on October 23, 1797. Herder characterizes her 
briefly as follows : 

"Frau Schulthess, to be brief, is a she-man (Mdnnin). She 

1 06 GOETHE. 

says almost nothing, and acts without any show of verbiage. She 
is not beautiful, nor well educated, only strong and firm without 

After a painting by Tischbein (1781) in possession of Dr. Denzler-Ernst 

of Zurich. 

coarseness. She is stern and proud without spreading herself, 
an excellent woman and a splendid mother. Her silence is in- 



By Kaulbach. 

108 GOETHE. 

structive criticism. To me she is a monitor and a staff .... She 
is only useful through silence. She only receives and does not 
give from pure humility, from true pride." 

Through her a most important work of Goethe's has been 
preserved, which is nothing less than his original conception of 
"Wilhelm Meister." It is not merely a variation of the one finally 
published, but a different novel altogether, three times as large 
in extent. It bore the title Wilhelm Meister's theatralische Sen- 
dung, and was written in 1777. Goethe sent it to Frau Schulthess, 
familiarly called Bebe, in 1783, and the entire manuscript was 
copied partly by herself, partly 'by her daughter. This copy was 
discovered by Dr. Gustav Villeter, Professor at the Zurich Gym- 
nasium, to wliom it was brought by one of his scholars. It has 
been edited by Dr. H. Mayn/ and was published in 1910. 

sjc ^ }): 

When speaking of the women who played a part in Goethe's 
life we must not forget Corona Schroter (born January 17, 1751, 
at Guben). She had met Goethe as a student in Leipsic and had 
at that time been greatly impressed by the charm of his personal- 
ity. In 1776 she was engaged as a concert singer in court circles 
at Weimar, and to her were assigned the heroine parts of romantic 
love dramas. The most critical minds were agreed in regarding 
her as one of the greatest stars in her specialty, and she was also 
a great favorite with Goethe who sometimes appeared with her 
on the stage. She was the first Iphigenia and acted the role 
with Goethe as Orestes. A good drawing of one of these scenes 
was made by Georg Melchior Kraus. Corona's whole appear- 
ance was such as worthily to represent the Greek heroine. The 
audience was confined to the ducal court of Weimar,' and no 
other public was admitted. In Kraus's picture the scenery is 
in so far misleading as it suggests that the play was performed 
in the open air at Ettersburg, but we know definitely that "Iphi- 
genia" was first performed indoors. 

Later on Corona Schroter became a successful teacher of reci- 
tation and singing, and many of the most distinguished Weimar 
ladies were her pupils. She was also an exquisite and gifted 
painter and composer. She set to music Goethe's "Fisher Maiden" 



of which the Erl King is a part, and her composition of this 
poem appears Hke a rough draft of Schubert's more elaborate, 
more powerful and more artistic composition. 

This little drama, Goethe's "Fisher Maiden," in which Corona 
Schroter took the part of Dortchen, was performed on the banks 
of the Ihn at Tiefurt, the summer residence of the Duchess 

By Anton Graff. 
Anna Amaha, and has been portrayed in a wash drawing by 
Georg Melchior Kraus. The picture represents the first scene. 
Dortchen is enraged because she contends that women are not 
appreciated. She contrives a plot in which she makes it appear 
*The fjicture is not definitely identified,, but judging fro"l tradition and 
its similarity to a known portrait of the s.nger there can scarcely be any 
doubt that she is the subject of the panitmg. 

lio Gofitafe. 

that there has been an accident. She hides one pail, places an- 
other on a plank near the water, and throws her hat among the 
bushes so that her father and lover will think she is drowned. 
After these preparations, she disappears in the woods just as the 
men return in their boat. They take alarm as she desired, but 

By Georg Melchior Kraus. 

after a while their fears are dissolved when she returns and sets 
their minds at rest. 

The field of Corona Schroter's activity was not lirtiited to 
the stage, for she was endowed with almost every other talent. 



112 GOETHE. 

Moreover her charming personality was like an incarnation of 
the heroines she represented. When Wieland first met her to- 
gether with her great poet friend in the park, he described her 
appearance in these strong terms : 

By Georg Melchior Kraus. 

"There we found Goethe in comjDany with the beautiful 
Corona Schroter who in the infinitely noble Attic elegance of 
her whole figure and in her quite simjDle yet infinitely recherche 



and insidious costume looked like the nymph of the charmine 
grotto." ^ 

Goethe called her Krone, the German equivalent of Corona 

Drawing by Schmeller. 

meaning "crown," and in his poem "On Mieding's Death" refers 
to her suggestive name in one of his verses, saying. 



And e'en the name Corona graces thee. 

In the same passage he dwells on her advantage in being en- 
dowed with beauty, a queenly figure, and all the arts, saying: 

Unto the world she like a flower appears, 
Is beauty's model in its finished state. 
She, perfect, doth perfection personate. 
The Muses did to her each grace impart 
And nature in her soul created art. 

— Tr. by Bowring. 









^^a^^'^i^^^*^' ,.'Mg^W 



[Als Blume zeigt sie sich der Welt: 
Zum Muster wuchs das schone Bild empor, 
Vollendet nun, sie ist's und stellt es vor. 
Es gonnten ihr die Musen jede Gunst, 
Und die Natur erschuf in ihr die Kunst.] 

In Weimar she was a favorite with almost every one and 
was especially admired by Friedrich von Einsiedel. Goethe dedi- 
cated to her the following lines inscribed beneath the statue of 
a Cupid feeding a nightingale, which adorned the Chateau Tie- 


Certainly Cupid has raised thee, 
O singer ; himself he has fed thee, 

And on his arrow the god 

Childlike presented thy food. 

Thus Philomele, thy throat, 

Which is steeped in the sweetest of poisons, 

Chanting thy strains without guile 

Fills with love's power our hearts. 

[Dich hat Amor gewiss, O Siingerin, fiitternd erzogen, 
Kindisch reichte der Gott dir mit deni Pfeile die Kost, 
So, durchdrungen von Gift die harmlos atmende Kehle, 
Trifft mit der Liebe Gewalt nun Philomele das Herz!] 

After Corona Schroter retired from the stage she made her 
home in Ihnenau and died there August 23, 1802. 

Anna Amaha, Duchess Dowager of Saxe-Weimar, plays a 
most important part in Goethe's life; and her influence on his 
destiny cannot be overestimated, for she was the guiding star 
which led him to Weimar. The elevating spirit in which she 
dominated the social atmosphere of the small duchy contributed 
not a little to mature the untamed spirit of the wild young genius. 

Anna Amalia was the daughter of the Duke Karl of Bruns- 
wick. She was born October 24, 1739, and was married to the 
Duke Constantin of Saxe-Weimar, March 16, 17^6. Her hus- 
band died on May 28, 1758, after a married life of only two 
years, and she took the regency until her %on, the young Duke 
Karl August, became of age, September 3, 1775. She proved 
not only very efficient in the affairs of government but was also 
a good mother and did her best to bestow upon her son a broad 
and liberal education. When the Duke married Louise, the 
daughter of the Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt, these three royal 
personages, the Duke, his mother, and his wife, formed an 
auspicious trinity i ifflieir love and patronage of German Htera- 

Even at an advanced age the Duchess preserved her beauty 
and distinguished appearance, and when she retired from active 
participation in the government, she concentrated her interest 
in belles lettres, art and everything that tends to the cultivation 
of the mind. She died at Weimar, April 10, 1807. 

The painter Kraus immortalized the circle of the Duchess 



Amalia in a watercolor which we here reproduce, and we may 
assume that it represents a scene of actual life. The figures as 
numbered in the picture are (1) Johann Heinrich Meyer, called 

After a painting by Angelica Kauffmann. 

Kunstmeyer, born in Zurich 1760; met Goethe on his Italian 
journey 1786; was called as professor of drawing to. Weimar 
1791; after 1807 director of the academy; died October 11, 


1832, iri Jena. (2) Frau Henriette von Fritsch, nee Wolfskell, 
lady-in-waiting. (3) Goethe. (4) Friedrich Hildebrand von 
Einsiedel, councilor in the government at Weimar, later chief 

Etching 'by Steirila, after a painting by Jagemann. 

master of ceremonies of Duchess Amalia. (5) Duchess Amalia. 
(6) Elise Gore. (7) Charles Gore. (8) Emilie Gore. (9) 
Fraulein von Gochhausen, lady-in-waiting. (10) Herder. Frau- 



lein von Gochhausen has come into prominence of late from the 
fact that she copied Goethe's first draft of "Faust," and this docu- 

ment was discovered by Professor Erich Schmidt in 1887. She 
was one of the most faithful of the attendants of the duchess, 



and in Goethe literature is sometimes simply called Thusnelda 
and sometimes, on account of her deformity, Gnomide. 


Drawn by Goethe. 
Among the acquaintances Goethe made in Weimar was Char- 
lotte von Stein, the wife of the Master of Horse. She was 



seven years older than' Goethe and mother of seven childfett, to 
the eldest of whom, called Fritz, Goethe was greatly attached. 


Drawing by Schmeller, about 1819. 

Goethe's correspondence with Charlotte von Stein "throws much 

light upon the poet's thoughts and sentiments arid .explains the 



origin of many of his poems. Among the poems dedicated to 
her we will mention "Restless Love," "To Linda," "Dedication," 
and above all the two short poems entitled "Wanderer's Night- 

On his return from a journey to Italy Goethe's relations to 
Frau von Stein had become cool. In 1788 he met Christiana 


Vulpius who handed him a petition in favor of her brother. She 
was the daughter of a talented man, who, however, had lost his 
situation through love of liquor. Christiana's position in life 
was a humble one. She worked in the flower factory of Mr. 
'For the text and translations of these songs see pp. 217-219. 





Bertuch, a business man who had done much to develop Weimar 
and of whom we have previously given some account.^ The 
girl was a buxom countiy lass with rosy cheeks and a simple- 
hearted disposition. Goethe took a fancy to her and used to meet 
her in his garden house. We have a picture of her, drawn by 
Goethe himself, which shows her as a demure maiden sitting 
quietly at a simple table. On the wall hang pictures of Rome. 
The small picture is Tischbein's sketch of his painting of Goethe 
on the ruins of the Campagna.® 

Drawn by Goethe in illustration of his poem. 

Once it happened that Goethe kept Christiana waiting so long 
that she grew first impatient, then sleepy, and when he arrived 
he could not find her. Searching around he finally discovered 
her curled up in the corner of a sofa fast asleep : 

In the hall I did not find the maiden, 
Found the maiden not within the parlor. 
And at last on opening the chamber 
Found I her asleep in graceful posture ; 
Fully dressed she lay upon the sofa. 

' See page 37. 

" See page 41. 



[Auf dem Saale fand ich nicht das Madchen, 
Fand das Madchen nicht in ihrer Stube. 
Endlich, da ich leis die Kammer offne, 
Fand ich sie, gar zierlich eingeschlafen, 
Angekleidet auf dem Sopha Hegen.] 

Goethe brought her into his home where she took charge of 
the household. A charming httle poem is dedicated to her 
- which describes their meeting in a figurative way. In the trans- 
lation of William Gibson it reads as follows : 

I walked in the woodland, 
And nothing sought ; 

Simply to saunter — ■" 
That was my thought. 

I saw in shadow 

A floweret rise, 
Like stars it glittered, 

Like lovely eyes. 

I would have plucked it, 
When low it spake : 

'My bloom to wither. 
Ah ! wherefore break ?' 

I dug, and bore it, 

Its roots and all. 
To garden-shades of 

My pretty hall. 

And planted now in 
A sheltered place. 

There grows it ever 
And blooms apace. 

[Ich ging im Walde 
So fiir mich bin, 
Und nichts zu suchen, 
Das war mein Sinn. 

Im Schatten sah ich 
Ein Bliimchen stehn, 
Wie Sterne leuchtend, 
Wie Aeuglein schon. 

Ich wollt' es brechen, 
Da sagt' es fein : 
Soil ich zum Welkeii 
Gebrochen sein? 

Ich grub's mit alien 
Den WUrzlein aus, 
Zum Garten trug ich's 
Am hiibschen Haus. 

Und pflanzt' es wieder 
Am stillen Ort; 
Nun zweigt es immer 
Und bliiht so fort.] 

Goethe married Christiana October 19, 1806. 

* * * 

Madame Goethe was not welcomed socially in the homes of 
Weimar, nor was her presence deemed desirable at court. .The 
first lady who received her was Johanna Schopenhauer, the 
mother of the famous pessimist. She had just moved to Weimar 
in 1806 after the death of her husband, a banker of Danzig. 
Johanna Schopenhauer was at the time a popular author, while 
her son, the philosopher, was almost unknown. Goethe, how- 
ever, prophesied that the gloomy young thinker would sometime 
grow above the heads of his contemporaries, and the latter, con- 



scious of his own importance, said to his mother in a dispute 
about the worth of their respective writings, that his works, 
then ignored, would be read when her novels would moulder in 
the attic as waste paper. 

On May 8, 1814, Goethe dedicated to the pessimist philos- 


opher two lines which the Schopenhauer Gesellschaft has pub- 
lished in its first annual in Goethe's own handwriting as he wrote 
it down for Schopenhauer "with reference to and in memory of 
many friendly discussions." The couplet reads as follows: 

"Willst du dich deines Werthes freuen, 
So musst der Welt du Werth verleihen." 


In this epigram Goethe has immortalized his critical view of 
Schopenhauer's pessimism. This is the sum total of his opinion 
of the badness of the world which he had discussed with Schopen- 
hauer in many confidential talks, as Goethe himself says. The 
lines were written in consequence of these discussions as a 
souvenir for the philosopher. When this poem was published 
by Goethe's publisher, Cotta, in 1815, Schopenhauer wrote on 
the margin of his copy "Mihi A. S.," which means, "This verse 
was written especially for me." 

No better answer could have been given to pessimism, no. 
better criticism and no better comment could have been made 
upon it than is contained in this verse. We can very well 
imagine that Goethe was deeply impressed with the truth of 
Schopenhauer's views. There can be no question that the world 
is full of misery, and that at best "its strength is labor and sor- 
row." But after all, the world as it is is the fact which' we have 
to face, and it is our business to make the best of it. The world 
to us is how we mold circumstances and what part we play in 
it, and thus the poet says : 

Thy worth, wouldst have it recognized? 
Give to the world a worth that's prized. 

The question is not whether the world is bad or good, but 
whether our life is worth the living, and if it is not in our power 
to change the constitution of the world it is our duty to acquire 
worth ourselves. 

* * * 

In 1797 Karoline Jagemann, distinguished both as a singer 
and an actress, filled an engagement at the Weimar theater. She 
was born at Weimar on January 15, 1777, and began her career 
on the stage at Mannheim at the age of fifteen. Four years later 
she returned to her native city to take a leading place in both 
opera and drama. She possessed not only remarkable beauty and 
a queenly bearing, but was also distinguished by rare talent and 
gained the favor of the Duke, who conferred nobility upon her 
under the name of Frau von Heygendorf. Strange to say she 
is the only woman of Goethe's acquaintance who was hostile 
to him. She used her influence with the Duke to intrigue against 
the poet and caused. him so much annoyance that he considered 



it a, relief wKen iii 1817 he resigned his position as director of 
the theater. ' : 

. Frau von Heygendorf is of special interest to: us because 
she is the only woman to whom the pessimist, and woman-hater 
Schopenhauer addressed a Jove poem. That Schopenhauer was 
riot entirely proof against feeling admiration for intellectual 
women is evidenced by his relation to Elizabet Ney, the sculp- 
tor, who modelled his. bust, the only one of him in existeiice. The 
case of Frau von Heygendorf, however, is more serious, as his 


interest in her might have induced him to forget his prejudice 
against marriage. ' Wilhelm von Gwinner publishes the facsimile 
of Schopenhauer's poem in the third Jahrhiich der Schopenhauer- 
Gese'llschaft, 1914, and writes as follows (as communicated by 
Prof. Paul Deussen in the preface, page ix) : 

"He (Schopenhauer) feft personally drawn to only one per- 
son; the'acti-ess Kafolirie Jageinann. 'This woman,' he owned, 

onc'e to his liibther; ' 1 would make my wife (heimfuhrek) 

even if I had picked .her up breaking stones on the highway.' 
By the" bye, she was ten years his senior. His only love poem, 
written- in the winter of 1809, was inspired by her. She visited 
him iii Frankforfas Frau von 'Heygendorf , on which occasion 



Bust by Elisabet Ney. 



he had read to her his parable of the company of porcupines just 
written at that time (Parerga II, 396) which she had greatly- 

The poem describes a chorus of singers who went out to 
serenade the actress on a murky day. The philosopher joins 
them and is disappointed that she does not appear at the window. 

Known as Achim von Arnim. 


The versification is poor, and the sentiment expressed almost 
trivial. The last stanza reads as follows: 

The chorus goes parading; 
Linger in vain mine eyes. 
The sun is veiled by curtains, 
My fate beclouded lies. 

[Der Chor zieht durch die Gassen, 
Vergebens weilt main Blick, 
Die Sonne hiillt der Vorhang — 
Bewolkt ist mein Geschick.] 



Enlarged from a miniature by A. von Achira Baerwalde. 



In April, 1807, Bettina Brentano (later Frau von Arnim) 
the daughter of Maximiliana von La Roche, and a sister of the 
poet Clemens Brentano, visited Goethe and was well received. 
Being an exceedingly pretty girl of a romantic disposition, she 
soon entered into a friendship with the famous poet which con- 


tinued for some time; but she caused him so much annoyance 
through her eccentricities that Goethe was glad of an opportunity 
to break with her. When once in 1811 she behaveid disrespect- 
fully to his wife, Frau Geheimerath Goethe, he forbade Bettina 
his house. 

HIS rela,tion::to women. 


Goethe had corresponded with Bettina, arid some time after 
his death she published letters that purported to be their cor- 
respondence, under the title "Goethe's Correspondence with a 
Child." Whatever of this book may be genuine, we know that 
it is greatly embellished and shows Goethe in a wrong light. 
Poems addressed to Minna Herzlieb are appropriated "by Bettina^ 
and Goethe is made to express sentiments which cannot have been 
in the original letters. 

Engraved by Doris Raab, 1814. 

Minna Herzlieb (born May 22, 1789, in Ziilichau) was edu- 
cated in the house of the publisher Frommel at Jena, where 
Goethe made her acquaintance and entertained a fatherly friend- 
ship for her. We may assume that he loved her, though the word 
"love" was never spoken between them. It is believed that she 
furnished the main features for the character of Ottilie in the 
"Elective Affinities" which he planned at that time. She, was 
married :in 1821 to Professor W.alch of Jena but later separated 



from her husband. She suffered from melancholia and died 
July 10, 1865, in a sanitarium at Goerlitz. 

At the celebration of the first anniversary of the battle of 
Leipsic in 1814, Goethe visited his native city, where he met a 


rich banker, the privy councilor Johann Jacob von Willemer. 
On the Willemer estate in the vicinity of tlie Gerbermiihle near 
Offenbach, the poet made the acquaintance of Marianne Jung, 
later Frau von Willemer, a most attractive and highly intellectual 
lady. She was born November, 1784, as tlie daughter of Mat- 
thias Jung, a manufacturer of musical instruments at Linz on the 


Danube, but since her father died during her childhood the 
young girl was compelled to make her own living, and she jomed 
the Th'aub ballet at Frankfort on the Main in 1799. She ap- 
peared on the stage, but the privy councilor who was m charge 
of the business management of the theater soon rescued the 
charming maiden from the dangers of a theatrical career. He 

1 36 GOETHE. 

took her into his home and had her educated as if she were his 
own daughter. Very soon after their acquaintance with Goethe 
in August, 1814, Marianne became the wife of her then widowed 
benefactor,- September 27 of the same year. 

Goethe enjoyed the company of the Willemer family so much 
that he visited them at Frankfort again for a few days in 1815. 
He never saw them afterwards but remained in correspondence 
with Frau von Willemer to the end of his life. With all her warm 
friendship for Goethe, Marianne never ceased to be a dutiful 
wife. Her husband knew of her letters to the poet and found 
no fault with her. This correspondence was published in 1877 
and contains also a letter of Eckermann with an account of 
Goethe's last moments. She influenced Goethe while he wrote 
the "West-Eastern Divan," many verses of which (especially the 
Suleika stanzas) literally express her own sentiments. 

Goethe's wife died June 6, 1816, and he felt the loss more 
keenly than might have been expected. JHe felt lonely in his 
home until, after the marriage of his only son August with Ottilie 
von Pogwisch, he saw his grandchildren grow up around him. 
Ottilie, born October 31, 1796, in Danzig, was the daughter of 
Baron Pogwisch and his wife, nee countess Henckel von Don- 
nersmarck. She was educated at Weimar where her mother was 
mistress of ceremonies at the ducal court. She was married to 
August von Goethe in 1817 and bore him three children,''' Walther 
Wolfgang, born April 9, 1818, Wolfgang Maximilian, borji Sep- 
tember 18, 1820, and Alma, born October 29, 1827. 

In the year- 1823 Goethe became deeply interested in Ulrike 
von Levetzow, whose mother he had formerly met in Carlsbad 
in company with her parents, Herr and Frau Brosigke. Amalia 
Brosigke had first been married to a Herr von Levetzow, who 
was court marshal of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, and by this mar- 
riage she had two daughters, Ulrike and Amalia. After a divorce 
she married her husband's cousin Friedrich von Levetzow, an 
officer who met his death in the battle of Waterloo. By this 
second marriage Amalia von Levetzow had another daughter 
named Bertha, and Goethe met the interesting widow and her 

' See above, pages 63-65. 


three datighters in Marienbad in 1821 and 1822. He felt a deep 
attachment for the eldest daughter Ulrike, and to characterize 
their relation we quote one of his letters to her, dated January 9, 
1823, in which he speaks of himself as "her loving papa" and 

After a crayon drawing by Heinrich Muller about 1820, 

also mentions her daughterly affection. The letter in answer 
to one of hers reads thus : 

"Your sweet letter, my dear, has given me the greatest pleas- 
ure, and indeed doubly so on account of one particular circum- 
stance. For though your loving papa always remembers his 
faithful and lovely daughter, yet for some time her welcome 

138 GOETHE. 

figure has been more clearly and vividly before my inner vision 
than ever. But now the matter is explained. It was just those 
days and hours when you too were thinking of me to a greater 
degree than usual and felt the inclination to give expression to 
your thoughts from afar. ' 

"Therefore many thanks, my, love ; and at the same time my 
best wishes and greetings to your kind mother of whom I like to 
think as a shining star on my former horizon. The excellent 
physician who has so entirely restored her heahh shall also be 
an honored ^sculapius to me. 

"So be assured that my dearest hope for the whole year would 

After a pastel miniature. 

be again to enter your cheerful family circle and to find all its 
members as kindly disposed as when I said farewell....;, 

"So, my dariing, I bespeak your daughterly consideration, for 
the future. May I find in -your company as much health in that 
valley among the mountains (Marienbad) and in its springs as I 
hope again to see you joyous and happy." 

When Goethe met the- I^evetzow family late in the following 
summer his attachment for Ulrike became so strong that though 
he was then 74 years old he seriously thought of marrying this 
charming j'oung girl of nineteen. But the difference in their 
/ ages seemed too great an obstacle. He resigned himself and in the 
same year wrote the "Trilogy of Passion" which was dedicated. 


to Ulrike. This summer in Marienbad was the last occasion 
on which they met. Ulrike never married and died at an ad- 
vanced age in 1899. 


Goethe Hved in a house of glass in the sense that all he ever 
did or that ever happened to him lies before us like an open book. 
During his lifetime he was watched by many curious people, by 



both friends and enemies, and the gossips of Weimar noted whom 
he visited or on whom he called. Even to-day we can almost 
study his life day by day, and know whom he ever met or how 
he busied himself. Every letter of his that is still extant has 
been published, and we have an insight into every one of his 
friendships, yet nothing has ever been discovered that could be 

Drawn by herself, 1790. 

used to his dishonor, or would support the malicious accusations 
of his enemies. The married women to whom Goethe was at- 
tracted never tried to conceal their friendship with the poet, 
nor did their husbands see any reason to enter a protest. Ap- 
parently the good conscience which Goethe enjoyed made him 
unconcerned about the possibility of stirring gossip; and yet he 




After a painting by H. Meyer, 1780, in the Grand-Duke's Museum 

at Weimar. 

142 GOETHE. 

felt it deeply, and sometimes gave expression to his indignation, 
as for instance in a letter to Frau von Stein, May 24, 1776. He 
said: "Even the relation, the purest, most beautiful and truest 
in which, except to my sister, I ever stood to a woman, is thus 
disturbed .... The world which can be nothing to me, does not 
want that you should be something to me." 

While at different times Goethe cherished several friendships 
with different women, and while his poetic nature seemed to need 
a stimulation in different Ways and by different characters, he 
longed for an ideal monogamy in which all his friendship and 
love would be concentrated on one woman, but fate did not grant 
him this boon. He expresses his wish in a letter to Frau von 
Stein, dated March 2, 1779, as follows: "It is an unpleasant idea 
to me that there was a time when you did not know and love me. 
Should I come again upon earth, I will ask the gods that I may 
love only one, and if you were not so opposed to this world, I 
would then ask you to become this dear companion of mine." 

Goethe was human, and his life, his passions, his interests 
and his work were thoroughly human. We will not make out 
that he was a saint, but grant that he had human failings. We 
claim, however, that even his failings had no trace of vulgarity 
and that his character was much purer than that of many a saint 
whom we know not in his sins but only in his contrition and 
repentance. Goethe did not want to be anything but human 
and so he portrays his humanity without trying to make it appear 
different from, what it was, and with all his shortcomings we 
must come to the conclusion that his humanity was ennobled 
by all the considerations demanded by reason as well as a respect 
for the rights of others. While he did not hesitate to enjoy him- 
self he never lost self-control nor did he ever do anything that 
would cause remorse. 


GOETHE was of a fine stature and had a prepossessing 
noble face. He had large bright eyes and generally wore a 
serene and kindly expression. We know from many reports of 
his contemporaries that his appearance was striking, although 
we may fairly well take for granted that most of the portraits 
made of Goethe are idealized. This is especially the case of 
thcbust made by Alexander Trippel (born 1744 at Schaffhausen, 
died September 24, 1793 at Rome). He met Goethe in Rome, 
and the bust he made of the poet is commonly called Goethe's 
Apollo bust, because it bears an unmistakable resemblance to the 
Belvidere statue of the god of music and poetry. Goethe wrote 
of this piece of art under September 14, 1787: "My bust is very 
well executed. Everybody is satisfied with it. Certainly it is 
wrought in a beautiful and noble style, and I have no objection 
that posterity should think I looked like this." 

As a rule Goethe enjoyed good health, but when a child he 
not only passed through all the usual children's diseases but 
also the dangerous black pox. In his eighteenth year at Leipsic 
he suffered from a hemorrhage of the lungs and remained for 
some time in a critical condition. In later years he observed the 
rules of hygienic living and only once afterwards suffered any 
dangerous disease. Slight disturbances of his health he would 
not allow to interfere with his work, for he exercised his will 
power and was firmly convinced that a man could overcome the 
danger of infection by courage, while fear of a disease rendered 





By A. Trippel. 



the system liable to succumb to it. He said to Eckermann (April 
7, 1829) : 

"It is remarkable what the moral will can accomplish It 
pervades the body, so to speak, and puts it in an active condition 

After an engraving by Schwerdgeburth. 

that throws off all injurious influences. Fear, on the other hand, 
is a condition of cowardly weakness and susceptibility which 
makes it easy for every foe to gain possession of us." 

146 GOETHE. 

He repeated this opinion in the last year of his life (March 
21, 1831): 

"I often suffer from abdominal trouble, but a determined 

will and the powers of my superior parts keep me going. The 

spirit must not yield to the body. I work more easily when the 

barometer is high than when it is low. Since I have discovered 

this I try by greater exeilion to overcome the evil effects of the 

low barometer, and I succeed very well." 

* * * 

Goethe's genius consisted mainly in what may be called "ob- 
jectivity." It was a significant trait of his character that he 
was able to view the world and the persons with whom he came 
in contact with a minimum degree of personal equation. His 
soul was like a perfect mirror which reproduced his surroundings 
with great correctness and impartiality. He was conscious of 
this himself. Whenever his genius was praised in his presence 
he used to explain it in some such words as these, recorded to 
have been spoken to Chancellor von Miiller: "I permit objects 
to make their impression upon me quietly. I observe the effect 
and endeavor to reproduce it faithfully and without vitiation. 
That is the whole secret of what men are pleased to call genius." 

In the same way he spoke to M. Soret, the tutor of the 
young princes : "By no means do I owe my works to my own 
wisdom, but to thousands of people and things around me that 
have furnished the material. There came to me fools and sages, 
bright minds and narrow, childhood and youth as well as mature 
age.' All told me their opinions, how they lived and worked and 
what experiences they had gathered, and I had nothing else to do 
but go to work and reap what others had sown for me." 

The objectivity of Goethe's character enabled him to work 
out the dramatis personae of his dramas with great perfection. 
It is true that the main characters always reflected one or another 
trait of himself, and mostly in an exaggerated degree. Goethe 
was Werther himself, and he experienced the pathological con- 
dition so marvelously described in his book ; but Goethe possessed 
sufficient strength to diagnose his own case and as soon as he 
had worked it out in good literary form he had rid himself of 
the disease. 


It is for this reason that Goethe's novels are by no means 
characteristic of his genius, and we deem it regrettable that 
in certain ciixles they are read more than his other works. 
Goethe has incorporated the pathology of his own development 
in all his books, but his novels, "Werther," "Elective Affini- 
ties," and "Wilhelm Meister," contain much that would better 
have been relegated to oblivion. It is true that problems are 
treated in them which will always command the interest of the 
student of psychology, but this being the case we must remember 
that the book should not be taken by the broad public as ideal 
literature, but should bear a warning sub-title, such as "Studies 
for the Pathologist." It takes a deeper knowledge of the human 
mind to appreciate the genius here displayed, which as in all of 
Goethe's works reflects the objectivity of his mind. 

This same objectivity in Goethe's character enabled him to 
understand persons who were different from himself, and to be 
just to every one. Part of his success in life is due to his mar- 
velous faculty of treating persons in the proper way, avoiding 
unnecessary conflicts and making friends of enemies. This is 
illustrated in an incident which occurred to him in 1774 when 
he was still a young man in the period of Storm and Stress. 

While traveling with Lavater he sat at the dinner table at 
Duisburg together with several guests of the hotel, one of whom 
was Rector Hasenkampf , a pious but tactless man. While Goethe 
and the rest were carrying on a jovial conversation, Herr Hasen- 
kampf interrupted them by asking, "Are you Herr Goethe?" 
Goethe nodded assent. "And did you write that notorious book, 
'The Sorrows of Young Werther'?" "I did." "Then I feel in 
duty bound to express my horror at that infamous book. May 
God change your perverted heart! For woe to that man by 
whom offense cometh." A painful silence followed, for all pres- 
ent expected the young poet's temper to be aroused, but Goethe 
answered calmly, "I understand that from your point of view 
you must judge me as you do, and I respect the honesty of your 
reproof. Remember me in your prayers." In this way Goethe 
disarmed the pious rector and won over every heart. The con- 
versation continued merrily, even the rector taking part in it. 

Goethe could sympathize with others because he had expe- 

148 GOETHE. 

rieiiced in his own life much of the fate common to 'all men. 
Thus we have a letter from him to Karl Friedrich Zelter, a 
musician of Berlin with whom he carried on a long correspon- 


dence, and to whom he looked up as his musical adviser. Zelter's 
son had committed suicide, and Goethe wrote to him in these 
words: "About the deed or misdeed itself, I know of nothing 


to say. When the taedium vitae attacks a man it can only be 
regretted, not censured. That the symptoms of this wonderful 
disease, as natural as it is unnatural, once took possession of my 
inmost being also, 'Werther' leaves no one in doubt. I know 
right well what exertion and decisions it cost me at that time 
to escape the waves of death, just as I have also with great 
trouble rescued myself from many a later shipwreck, and re- 
covered only by the utmost effort." 

Goethe's father was a patron of painters, and so the love of 
art was naturally instilled into the poet from his earliest child- 
hood. We have many sketches by the young Goethe which be- 
tray considerable talent,, and even though he never became a real 
artist he did not cease to exercise his eye in seeing beauty and 
his hand in reproducing on paper the impression received. He 
never traveled without taking paper and sketch-book with him, 
and we have innumerable drawings from his hand which, though 
by no means perfect, possess some interest even for great artists. 

In one drawing the young poet has sketched himself, and 
we notice his intention to display the characteristic interests of 
his life. He himself is seated at a table writing, and on the wall 
in the background hang his hat and coat together with his sword, 
and probably a guitar. At the left upper corner of the window 
is his sketch of his sister, Cornelia. Behind his chair stands an 
easel with an unfinished landscape upon it. ( Tradition does not 
betray the contents of the bottle on the table behind him. \ In spite 
of some technical mistakes, the conception of the sketch is ad- 
mirable and shows both thought and taste. How much Goethe 
trained himself in artistic observation appears in the following 
sentence in "Truth and Fiction" : "I saw no old castle, no old 
building, which I did not reproduce as closely, as possible." 

Goethe collected all the sketches he made in his early youth 
in a portfolio which he called Juvenilia. The Goethe-Gesell- 
schaft has published the most characteristic of these drawings, 
and we here reproduce some of them. Most of them are artistic 
in conception and drawn with a firm yet delicate hand. Take 
for instance the watch-tower of Sachsenhausen and the church 



From the portfolio Juvenilia. 



of St. Leonhard, and consider that they were made by a boy in 
his 15th year who had no special artistic education. 

As an instance of the happy disposition of Goethe we will 


■*j -' 



Drawing by Goethe contained in the portfolio Juvenilia. 

here recapitulate an anecdote of his younger years as told by 
Johann Daniel Falk.^ It dates from June, 1777, when he had 
just settled in Weimar. 

^ Goethe aus ndherem personlichem Umgang dargestellt. Leipsic, 1832, 
p. 139. 



The narrative rests on the authority of Johann Ludwig Gleim, 
one of the most popular poets of Germany before Goethe. Gleim 

was born April 2, 1719, and died at Halberstadt, February 18, 
1803. He is best known for his "Prussian War Songs of a 

Goethe's personality. 


Grenadier," and his are the thrilling dithyrambs in honor of 
Prussia's great king, beginning "Fredericus Rex, unser Konig 
iind Herr," which have been set so grandly to music. He was a 

(Vedij2. a 

ConfciLl&'L CIc'IlozL 




tres 0\ 


From the portfolio Juvenilia. 

patron of the whole generation of younger poets ; he cheered 

them up and encouraged them even with pecuniary assistance 

when required, and often he helped those who were unworthy of 

154 GOETHE. 

his generosity. But this was Gleim's nature, and so he deserved 
the title "Father Gleim" which literary Germany accorded him. 
Naturally he was anxious to meet the young Goethe, the new 
star that had so suddenly risen on the horizon of German litera- 
ture and was strong enough not to stand in need of Father 
Gleim's patronage. Falk tells the story thus : 

"Shortly after Goethe had written his 'Werther' — the vener- 
able old Gleim once related to me [Falk] — I came to Weimar 
and desired to make his acquaintance. One evening I was in- 
vited wi^ some others to the Duchess Amalia's where it was 
said that Goethe too would come later in the evening. By way of 
a literary novelty I had brought with we the latest Gottinger 
Musenalmanach from which I read aloud one thing and another 
to the company. While I was reading, a young man, whom I 
had hardly noticed, with boots and spurs and a short green 
hunting coat, had mingled with the otiier auditors. He sat op- 
posite me and listened very attentively. With the exception of 
a pair of wonderfully sparkling black Italian eyes there was 
nothing about him which particularly attracted my attention. 
Nevertheless I was destined to know him much more intimately. 
During a brief pause in which some gentlemen and ladies were 
giving their judgment about this or that piece, praising one and 
criticizing another, our elegant hunter — for sucTa I had taken 
him to be at the start — rose from his chair, joined in the con- 
versation and, bowing to me courteously, offered to take turns 
with me in reading aloud from time to time, if I would be pleased 
to do so, that I might not tire myself too greatly. I could not 
avoid accepting this polite proposal and at once handed him the 
book. But by Apollo and the Nine Muses, not to forget the 
Three Graces, to what was I at last compelled to listen! In the 
beginning to be sure it went quite passably : 

'Zephyrs listened, 
Brooks murmured and glistened. 
The sun 
Spread light for sheer fun, etc' 

"Even the somewhat heavier fare of Voss, Leopold Stolberg 
and Burger was delivered so well that no one could find fault. 


But all at once it was as if the devil of impertinence had seized 
the reader, and I thought that I beheld the wild huntsman in- 
carnate before me. He read poems which were never in the 
Almanack, and he took turns with every conceivable key and 
style — hexameter, iambic, and doggerel just as it happened, 
everything mixed up and thrown together as if he just poured 
it out that way. 

"What did he not improvise in his gay mood that evening! 
Sometimes there were such splendid thoughts — even though as 
carelessly thrown off as roughly sketched — that the authors to 
whom he ascribed them might well thank God upon their knees 
if such thoughts had occurred to them at their desks. As soon 
as every one shared the joke general merriment spread through 
the room. The mysterious reader worked in something about all 
who were present. Even the patronage which I had always con- 
sidered my duty towards young scholars, poets and artists, al- 
though he praised it on the one hand, yet he did not forget on the 
other hand to give me a little stab for making mistakes sometimes 
in the individuals to whom I accorded my support. Therefore 
in a little fable composed e.v tempore in doggerel verses he com- 
pared me, wittily enough, with a pious, and at the same time ex- 
ceedingly long-suffering, turkey cock who sat very patiently 
upon large numbers of eggs of his own and other kinds, but to 
whom it once happened (and he did not take it ill) that a chalk 
Qgg was put under him in place of a real one. 

" 'That is either Goethe or the devil !' I exclaimed to Wieland 
who sat across the table from me. 'Both,' Wieland replied. 'He 
is possessed by the devil again to-day. Then he is like a spirited y^ 
bronco that strikes out in all directions so that one would do 
well not to come too near him.' " 

Goethe's own home at Weimar was comfortable and testified 
to his love of art, but there was no show of luxury, and his study 
presented the appearance of Spartan simplicity. In his "Con- 
versations with Eckermann" (March 23, 1829) he said: 

"Magnificent buildings and rooms are for princes and kings. 
He who lives in them feels at ease ; he is contented and wishes for 



nothing else. It is quite contrary to my nature. In a splendid 
dwelling such as I had at Karlsbad I am lazy and indolent. Nar- 
row quarters, on the other hand, like this poor room where we 
now are, in somewhat disorderly order, a little Bohemian, are 
the right things for me. They permit my nature entire freedom 
to be active and to make something of myself." 
Two days later he touched on the same subject: 
"You see no sofa in my room ; I always sit in my old wooden 
chair and only in the last few months I have arranged a sort of 

Drawn by O. Schultz after a photograph by L. Held. 

rest for my head. Surroundings of comfortable, tasteful furni- 
ture dull my thought and reduce me to a passive condition." 

While Goethe's study was simple and serviceable his home 
was large and comfortable and did not lack a display of art. 
One of his friends, the naturalist-philosopher Karl Gustav Carus 
of Dresden, describes Goethe's house at Weimar thus : 

"Immediately upon entrance into the modestly large house, 
built in a simple antique style, the inclinations of the owner were 

Goethe's personality. I57 

clearly indicated by the broad easy stairway as well as the decora- 
tion of the banisters with the hound of Diana and the young 
fawn of Belvidere. Farther up a group of Castor and Pollux 
agreeably surprised the eye, and on the main floor the guest was 

greeted by a hospitable Salve in the hall. This room itself was 
richly decorated with busts and engravings, and towards the 
back of the house opened through another hall of statuary upon 
the gaily entwined balcony and a stairway leading into the gar- 



den. Conducted into another room the guest found himself 
surrounded anew with works of art and antiquities. Beautifully 
burnished vessels of chalcedony stood around on marble tables; 
above the sofa green hangings half concealed a large copy of 
the old mural painting known by the name of 'the Aldobrand 
Wedding' ;^ while the selection of pieces of art kept under glass 
and in frames, and mostly representing objects of ancient his- 
tory, deserved the closest attention." 

This house was a gift from Duke Karl August in 1792. 
Walther von Goethe, the poet's grandson and the last of the 
family, bequeathed it to the state of Saxe- Weimar at his death, 

r.--i,*u.Yfi'r'^' \ 

April IS, 1885, and it is now the seat of the Goethe National 

Museum. In 1827 Otto Wagner made a drawing of it under 

which Goethe wrote two couplets which may be translated freely 


Why stand they there outside? 
The doors are open wide. 

If they'll come in and see 
Right welcome they will be. 

Goethe loved traveling. He journeyed along the Rhine, 
through Switzerland and Italy, and frequently visited Karlsbad 

^ The Aldobrand Wedding is a picture dating presumably "from the age; 
of Augustus, which has been discovered (1606) near the Church of St. Maria 
Maggiore at Rome, on the grounds which formerly belonged to Maecenas. It^ 
represents the preparation for a wedding, consisting of three groups." It was" 
named after Cardinal Aldobrandini, its first owner, and is now kept in the 
Vatican library. ; 


and Teplitz; but he was always glad to return to his home in 
Weimar, and in one of his letters to Christiana Vulpius, his faith- 
ful consort, he wrote : 

From east to west, 
At home is best. 

[Von Osten nach Westen — 
Zu Hause am hasten.] 

He always dressed as occasion demanded. At court or when 
receiving guests he would appear in a somber black court dress 
with his decoration on his breast, but he did not hesitate to be 
seen by his intimate friends on hot days in his shirt sleeves, or 
in his comfortable woolen gown in winter. 

Goethe enjoyed gardening, and his philosophical as well as 
scientific interest in plant life is sufficiently proved by his poem 
on the "Metamorphosis of Plants." He stayed frequently in his 
little garden house outside the city and loved to meet his friends 

* * * 

A humorous incident is told by Goethe of Gottsched,^ who 
was considered a kind of dictator of German literature. While 
Goethe was a student at Leipsic Gottsched still basked in the 
glory of his fame though he had long since passed the zenith 
of his significance. He was a pompous man of the old style 
belonging to the period of the full-bottomed wig, and Goethe 
criticised him as an author with impartiality in the second book 
of his "Truth and Fiction." When Schlosser visited Leipsic 
Goethe called on Gottsched in company with his future brother- 
in-law, and gives an account of this interview. We quote again 
from Oxenford's translation of "Truth and Fiction" : 

"I cannot pass over the visit we paid Gottsched, as it exem- 
plifies the character and manners of that man. He lived very 
respectably in the first story of the Golden Bear, where the elder 
Breitkopf, on account of the great advantage which Gottsched's 
writings, translations, and other aids had brought to the trade, 
had promised him a lodging for life. 

'Gottsched was born February 2, 1700, at Juditten in Eastern Prussia, 
and died September 12, 1766, at Leipsic, where he had lived since 1724. In 
1730 he became professor of poetry, and in 1734 professor of logic and meta- 



"We were announced. The servant led us into a large cham- 
ber, saying his master would come immediately. Now, whether 
we misunderstood a gesture he made, I cannot say ; at any rate, 
we thought he directed us into an adjoining room. We entered, 
to witness a singular scene ; for, on the instant, Gottsched, that 
tall, broad, gigantic man, came in at the opposite door in a 
morning-gown of green damask lined with red taffeta ; but his 
monstrous head was bald and uncovered. This, however, was to 
be immediately provided for. The servant rushed in at a side- 


door with a full-bottomed wig in his hand (the curls came down 
to the elbows), and handed the head-ornament to his master 
with gestures of terror. Gottsched, without manifesting the least 
vexation, raised the wig from the servant's arm with his left 
hand, and, while he very dexterously swung it up on his head, 
gave the poor fellow such a box on the ear with his right paw, 
that the latter went spinning out at the door, as is often seen in 
comedies; whereupon the respectable old grandfather invited us 



', I I III l-|M| ll'ij \ ^ < • M 1IUII\ 







quite gravely to be seated, and kept up a pretty long discourse. 

with good grace." 

* * * 

Gellert's lectures in Leipsic on the history of literature were 
very attractive to Goethe, and we cannot better describe the sig- 
nificance and character of this interesting professor than in the 
poet's own words : 

"The reverence and love with which Gellert was regarded 
by all young people was extraordinary. I called on him and was 
kindly received. Not tall of stature, delicate without being lank, 



—with gentle and rather pensive eyes, a very fine forehead, a 
nose aquiline but not too much so, an aristocratic mouth, a face 
of an agreeable oval — all made his presence pleasing and de- 
sirable. It cost some trouble to reach him. His two famuli ap- 
peared like priests who guard a sanctuary to which access is not 
permitted to everybody nor at every time. Such a precaution was 
very necessary, for he would have sacrificed his whole time had 
he been willing to receive and satisfy all those who wished to 
become intimate with him. 

"Gellert, in accordance with his pious feelings, had com- 



From Haid's mezzotint after the .painting by Anton Graff. 



posed a system of ethics, which from time to time he publicly 
read, thus acquitting himself in an honorable manner of his 
duty to mankind. Gellert's writings had for a long time been 
the foundation of German moral culture, and every one anxiously 
wished to see that work printed ; but as this was not to be done 
till after the- good man's death, people thought themselves very 
fortunate to hear him deliver it himself in his lifetime. At such 
times the philosophical lecture .room was crowded; and the 
beautiful soul, the pure will, and the interest of the noble man 


in our welfare, his exhortations, warnings and entreaties, uttered 
in a somewhat hollow and mournful tone, made indeed an im- 
pression for the moment. But this did not last long, the less so 
as there were many scoffers who contrived to make us suspicious 
of this tender, and, as they thought, enei'vating, manner. I re- 
member a Frenchman traveling through the town who asked 
what were the maxims and opinions of the man who attracted 
such an immense concourse. When we had given him the neces- 
sary information, he shook his head and said smiling, 'Laissez le 
faire, il nous forme des dupes.' 

Goethe's personality. 165 

"And in the same way good society which does not easily 
brook anything worthy, knew how to find occasion to spoil the 
moral influence which Gellert might have upon us r . . . and so 
pulled about the good reputation of the excellent Gellert that, in 
order not to be mistaken about him, we became indifferent 
towards him and visited him no more; yet we always saluted 
him in our best manner when he came riding along on his gentle 
white horse. This horse the Elector of Saxony had sent him, 
to oblige him to take the exercise so necessary for his health, — 
a distinction for which he was not easily to be forgiven." 

There are six religious songs of Gellert's for which Beethoven 
has composed the music. In the translation of H. Stevens they 
read as follows : 


O Lord, thy goodness reaches far, 

As far the clouds are guided; 

By mercy crowned, thy creatures are 

With needful help provided. 

Lord ! my defense, my tower and shield, 

To me a gracious audience yield, 

Approve my supplication. 


If one shall -say; 'I love the Lord,' 
While yet his brother hating, 
With mockers he shall reap reward 
God's truth abominating; 
For God is, love, and wishes me 
With all on loving terms to be. 


Life is ebbing fast away, 
Hourly towards the grave I hasten; 
Death may come without delay. 
Let this thought my spirit chasten. 
Man bethink thee Death is rife. 
One thing needful is in life. 

The Heavens declare the Lord's infinite glory. 
The sea and earth sound forth his name, 
And tell their origin's wonderful story, 
Mark well, O man, what they proclaim. 

166 GOETHE. 

Who gave the numberless stars their existence, 
Who calls the Sun from his abode, 
He comes in brightness and smiles from the distance, 
And like a hero keeps his road. 


God is my song ! 

In strength he reigns victorious, 

High is his name, 

And all his works are glorious; 

Earth, Sea and Heaven to him belong. 

'Gainst thee alone, God, have I sin committed, 
And evil done in thy dread sight; 
Thou seest my guilt for which thy wrath is fitted. 
See, Lord, my woe and sore affright. 

My piteous wail, my sighs are all before thee. 
My tears of deep and bitter grief, 

God, my God, shall I in vain implore Thee? 
How long wilt thou deny relief? 

Lord, do not after my deSerts reward me. 
Chastise me not ! Show me thy face ; 

1 crave for thee ! thy pardon. Lord, accord me. 
Thou God of patience and of grace. 


grant me early, God, thy consolation. 
Oh Father of mercy, God of love. 

For thine own name's sake grant my supplication, 
Thou lov'st to bless from Heav'n above. 

Let on thy path me walk ; let me be steady 

In my obedience to thy word. 

To do thy will I shall be always ready, 

1 am thy servant, thou my Lord. 

Lord, hasten thou to shelter and defend me; 
Show me thy path, point out the goal. 
Thy helping hand, O Lord, thy helping hand extend me 
And with thy comfort fill my soul. 
* * * 

Goethe was a man of the world. It is true that in his youth 
he passed through a period of fermentation in which, Titan-Hke, 
he could rebel against authority in any form, but when he saw 
more of the world he followed the behests of common sense and 
respected rank and power even when due merely to heredity. He 



was a poet by nature, but in Weimar he had become a man of 
afifairs and a courtier. In this respect he was different from 
Beethoven who remained an outspoken democrat all his life, at 
least a non-respector of rank, preserving this tendency even in 
the presence of his imperial friend, the liberal-minded Emperor 
Joseph, who not only distinguished him frequently with marks 
of personal friendship, but also humored his often rude inde- 

By Daniel Maclise after a similar cari- OF VIENNA. 

cature by Thackeray. Sketch by J. P. Lyser. 

pendence. Bettina von Arnim tells a story which illustrates this 
cohtrast between Goethe and Beethoven. 

One day Beethoven and Goethe were walking together, dur- 
ing their stay at Teplitz, when they met the whole coterie of royal 
personages. Beethoven went so far as to show a certam dis- 
respect by passing through their midst regardless of their rank, 
while Goethe modestly doffed his hat and made room for them 

168 GOETHE. 

to pass. Bettina tells us that Goethe was somewhat perplexed 
by the "quite untamed" personality of the great composer, while 
Beethoven blamed Goethe for his courtier-like behavior and on 
the following day vented his indignation in these words : "Kings 
and princes can indeed bestow titles and orders, but they can 
not make great men, who therefore must be held in respect. 
When two come together such as Goethe and I, then these great 
gentlemen must observe what it is that counts for great with 
such as we. Yesterday we met the whole imperial family [of 
Austria], and Goethe disengaged himself from my ai;m in order 
to stand aside. I pressed my hat down on my head and went 
through the thickest of the crowd with my arms hanging at my 
sides. Princes and courtiers drew up in a double line, the Duke\ 
of Weimar took off his hat to me and the Empress greeted me 
first. Much to my amusement I saW the procession file by Goethe, 
who stood at one side bowing with his hat in his hand. I took 
him roundly to task for it afterwards." 

This makes Goethe appear in a rather unfavorable light, but 
we must consider that Beethoven also went too far in his brusque 
manner, and he might perhaps on second thought have granted 
that even royolty ought to be treated with gentlemanly behavior. 

To complement this trait of Goethe's .character we ought to 
say that while he admired his own sovereign, Karl August, and 
while he respected his rights even in punctilious formalities, -he 
was by no means a pliable courtier, but in his official duties when- 
ever he thought that his own judgment was better than his sov- 
ereign's, he insisted on his point with great tenacity so that the 
Duke is reported to have complained sometimes of his obstinacy. 
Once while disagreeing about filling a chair at the university 
of Jena, the Duke "finally broke off the conversation by saying 
in a tone of comradeship, "Thou art an odd fellow and canst not 
stand contradiction." 

* sfi ^ 

Though Goethe was upon the whole very simple in his habits 
of life and in a way frugal, he spent much money, partly for his 
travels, partly for books and art treasures, and also for his 
wines. Further we have good reason to know that neither his 
wife Christiana nor his daughter-in-law Ottilie were good house- 



After an engraving by Schwerdgeburth. 



keepers. He di'ew a very good income from his books and re- 
ceived many gifts from home. When his mother died he in- 
herited the fortune of his parents which was not inconsiderable. 
Payments made to him between 1795 and 1832 by Cotta alone, 
his main publisher, amounted to 401,090 thalers; and between 
the years 1832 and 1865, until the expiration of the copyright, 
his heirs drew the additional amount of 154,824 thalers. He 

Goethe's publisher and founder of Die Horen. 

kept a faithful account of his expenses, and yet his pecuniary 
affairs were never prosperous, and he frequently complained of 
being short of funds. 

Goethe loved jovial company and wrote several jolly drinking 
songs. In his younger years especially he drank wine rather 


freely, but when he grew older he became suspicious of all stimu- 
lants. He drank no tea and very Httle coffee, deeming both to 
be poisonous, and also abstained from the use of tobacco. He 
took beer or strong liquors only as an exception, but being a 
Rhinelander it was difficult for him to give up wine even when 
he began to doubt its wholesomeness. Once he wrote (in 1780) : 
"I drink ahuost no wine at all and gain daily in insight and 
ability to lead an active life." In 1786 he wrote from Italy: "I 
am very moderate. The red wine of this country I cannot stand, 
and like St. Louis I drink it mixed with much water." But these 
moods did not make him a total abstainer. He continued to 
drink a glass of Madeira for his forenoon lunch and a bottle of 
Wiirzburg wine for mid-day dinner, while in the evening he en- 
joyed either a punch or a glass of champagne. It is remarkable 
that he could stand so much, but it is noteworthy that he recom- 
mends moderation to his son while a student at the university of 
Heidelberg. In a fatherly letter he writes in 1808 : "We are 
living on in the same old way, quietly and busily, especially, too, 
as far as wine is concerned, with regard to which it pleases me 
to learn from your letter that you beware of drinking which has 
become so very much the fashion although it militates more than 
one thinks against a prudent, cheerful and active life." 

An anecdote from the poet's sojourn in Karlsbad is told in 
Goethe's own words by Professor Luden of Jena as follows : 

"Walking up and down as was my habit, I repeatedly came 
across an old man of perhaps 78 or 80 years of age, who leaning 
on his gold-headed cane passed along the same street coming and 
going. I learned that he was a very deserving retired general 
of a prominent old family. I noticed several times that the old 
man looked at me sharply, even standing still and looking back 
at me after I had passed. I paid no special attention to this at 
the time because I had had similar experiences before. Once, 
however, I started to take a stroll on the side path in order to 
look at something or other more particularly. The old man 
came up to me in a friendly manner, slightly lifted his hat, to 
which of course I suitably responded, and addressed me in the 





following fashion. 'Your name is Mr. Goethe, is it not ?' — Quite 
right. — 'From Weimar?' — Right again. — 'You have written 
books, haven't you?' — Oh yes. — 'And made verses?' — That too. 
— 'They are said to be fine.' — Hm! — 'Have you written much?' 
— Some might think so. — 'Is it hard to write verses ?' — So so. — 
'It depends a good deal on one's mood I fancy? Whether a 
person has eaten and drunk well, doesn't it?' — It amounts to 
about that. — 'Now see ! You ought not to waste your time in 
Weimar, but in my opinion you should come to Vienna.' — I've 
often thought of it. — 'Now see! It's fine in Vienna, they have 
good things to eat and drink!' — Hm! — 'And they make a lot of 
such people who can write verses.' — Hm! — 'Yes indeed, such 
people — if you aix a good fellow, you see, and know how to live 
— are received in the first and finest houses.' — Hm! — 'Do come 
and try! Let me know when you come, for I have a wide 
acquaintance, relatives and influence. Just write: Goethe from 
Weimar, met at Karlsbad. The last is necessaiy to remind me 
because I have so much on my mind.' — I'll not fail to. — ^'But tell 
me thowgh, what have you written?' — All sorts of things from 
Adam to Napoleon, from Ararat to Blocksberg, from the cedar 
to the bramble bush. — 'They say it is widely known.' — ^Hm! Un- 
fortunately. — 'Too bad that I have never read anything of yours, 
and never heard of you before! Have new revised editions of 
your writings appeared ?' — Oh yes, probably. — 'And perhaps more 
will appear?' — Let us hope so. — 'Well, but see! then I will not 
buy your works. I only buy final editions. Otherwise one al- 
ways has the annoyance of owning a poor book or else one must 
buy the saine book a second time. Therefore in order to be 
secure I always wait until the author is dead before I buy his 
books! It is a principle with me, and I can not depart from this 
principle even in your case.' — Hm!" 

Another encounter of a humorous kind is reported of a cap- 
tain of hussars, Franz von Schwanenfeld, who happened to cross 
Goethe's path in Teplitz in 1_833. The gallant officer had reached 
the place at the end of June and could not get a room except in 
the basement of a garden house situated on the promenades. One 

174 GOETHE. 

morning the light of his room was darkened by the figure of a 
fine old gentleman who sat on the bench just outside his window 
and drank a mug of water, which the servant brought him. This 
was repeated so frequently that our hussar was annoyed and yet 
he was attracted by the fine features of the stranger. He opened 
his window and called out, "Good morning!" but received no 
reply except a glance of rebuke. Undaunted the captain con- 
tinued, "Are you a hypochondriac ?" No answer. The question 
was repeated in a voice of thunder. Finally the old gentleman 
spoke: "Strange!" said he. "Indeed it is strange," replied the 
captain, "here you are sick and sit out in the cold fog drinking 
your water alone in solitude and silence. I would rather drink 
ink in company with others and would be cured the sooner. Do 
you know, I would be disposed to come to blows with you." 
The other's eyes opened wide in amazement, and the captain con- 
tinued : "No danger ! I like your hero face too much !" 

The stranger was pleased with the aggressive soldier who 
clothed his offensive language so adroitly in flattery. They en- 
tered into conversation and soon were walking together arm in 
arm. They talked about Schiller and Goethe, about the Duke of 
Weimar and the war, and the captain said he was very fond of 
"Tasso" but disliked "Werther." The stranger called the hussar 
his doctor because he had cured him of his attack of hypochon- 
dria, and on the following day they met again, but this time the 
patient was in company with another gentleman whom the doctor 
took to be a forester or the tenant of some large estate, and he tried 
to instill into both a more joyous conception of life. After a few 
days Herr von Schwanenfeld was informed that his acquaintance 
was Goethe, and the latter's companion whom he had addressed 
so unceremoniously, the Duke Karl August. 

A curious incident is reported by Dr. G. Parthey, of a Berlin 
woman who may be characterized as a German Mrs. Malaprop. 
He quotes her as giving the following account of her meeting 
with the famous poet. 

"I had made up my mind to visit the great Goethe just once, 
and so one day when I rode through Weimar I went to his gar- 


den and gave the gardener one dollar so that he would hide me 
in an arbor and give me the wink when Goethe came along. Now 
when he came down the path and the gardener beckoned to me, I 
stepped out and said : 'Worshipful sir !' Then he stood still, put 
his hands behind his back, looked at me and asked, 'Do you know 
me?' I answered, 'Great man, who is there that does not know 
you ?' and began to recite. 

Firmly bound, the mold of clay 
In its dungeon walls doth stand.* 

At that he made a bow, turned around and went on. So I had 
my way and had seen the great Goethe." 

It was characteristic of Goethe that he was opposed to all 
gossip, and whenever slander was reported to him he resented it 
strongly. Once he said to Chancellor von Miiller, "Through such 
malevolent and indiscreet inventions one makes enemies and em- 
bitters one's own existence. I would rather hang myself than be 
constantly negative, constantly in the opposition, constantly ready 
to shoot at the faults and shortcomings of my fellows and neigh- 
bors. One must be very young and frivolous to tolerate such 
things." On another occasion he replied very sharply to a visitor 
who related some scandal, "Keep the sweepings of your dirt at 
home, and do not bring it into my house." 

Once while passing through a park at Weimar his attention 
was called to a couple of lovers who thought themselves unob- 
served. They were known in Weimar, and when asked whether 
he had seen them Goethe answered, " I did, but I don't believe 


* * * 

Goethe was lenient in judging harmless joys and insisted 
especially upon the protection of the liberties of the children. 
He used to complain that the police disturbed the people in some 
of their innocent enjoyments. Eckermann reports the following 
remarks under the date of March 12, 1828: 

"I only need look out of the window in our dear Weimar to 
* This is the beginning of Schiller's best known poem "The Bell." 

176 GOETHE. 

become aware of how things are with us. When recently the 
snow lay on the ground and my neighbor's children wished to 
try their little sleds in the street, a police officer was immediately 
on the spot, and I saw' the poor little things run away as fast 
as they could. Now when spring sunshine entices them out of 
the houses and they want to play some little game with their 
companions in front of their doors, I see that they are always 
uneasy as if they were not sure and as if they feared the arrival 
of some police tyrant. No boy can crack a whip or sing or call 
out but the police is on hand at once to forbid him. In our town 
everything tends toward making young people tame before their 
time and drive out of them all naturalness, all originality, and 
wildness, so that in the end there is nothing left but the Phil- 

When the ancient custom of burning up old brooms on St. 
John's day was prohibited by a regulation of the Weimar police, 
Goethe wrote down the following lines to be circulated as a 
propaganda against this interference with boyish merry-making: 

St. John's day fires be not forbid, 

Nor hindered harmless joys; 
For of old brooms we must be rid, 

And boys will still be boys. 

[Johannisfeuer sei unverwehrt, 

Die Freiide nie verloren ! 
Besen werden immer stumpf gekehrt, 
Und Jungens immer geboren.] 


GOETHE'S faith in God received a severe shock while he 
was a small child from the news of the earthquake at Lis- 
bon. From his religious instruction the boy had learned to look 
upon God as all-good, all-wise and all-powerful, and such a 
dreadful accident seemed to be incompatible with his conception 
of deity. In his autobiography the poet describes his own state 
of mind as follows : 

"An extraordinary event deeply disturbed the boy's peace of 
mind for the first time. On the 1st of November, 1755, the earth- 
quake at Lisbon took place, and spread a prodigious alarm over 
the world, long accustomed to peace and quiet. A great and 
magnificent capital which was at the same time a trading and 
mercantile city, was smitten without warning by a terrible calam- 
ity. The earth trembled and tottered; the sea foamed; ships 
dashed against one another; houses fell down, and churches and 
towers on top of them ; the royal palace was partly swallowed by 
the waters ; the bursting land seemed to vomit flames ; everywhere 
among the ruins were seen smoke and fire. Sixty thousand per- 
sons, a moment before in ease and comfort, perished together; 
and he was most fortunate who was no longer capable of a 
thought or feeling about the disaster. The flames raged on ; and 
with them raged a troop of desperadoes, before concealed, or set 
at large by the event. The wretched survivors were exposed to 
pillage, massacre and every outrage ; and thus on all sides nature 
asserted her boundless caprice. 

"Intimations of this event had spread over wide regions more 
quickly than the authentic reports ; slight shocks had been felt in 

178 GOETHE. 

many places; in many springs, particularly those of a mineral 
nature, an unusual receding of the waters had been remarked; 
and such phenomena added to the effect of the accounts them- 
selves, which were rapidly circulated, at first in general terms, 
but finally with dreadful definiteness. Hereupon the religiously 
inclined were not wanting in reflections, neither were the philo- 
sophical in grounds for consolation, nor the clergy in warnings. 
So complicated an event arrested the attention of the world for 
a long time ; and, as additional and more detailed accounts of the 
extensive effects of this explosion came from every quarter, those 
who had already been aroused by the misfortunes of strangers 
now began to be more and more anxious for themselves and their 
friends. Perhaps the demon of horror had never so speedily and 
powerfully diffused his terrors over the earth. 

"The boy, who was compelled to endure frequent repetitions 
of the whole story, was not a little staggered. God, the Creator 
and Preserver of heaven and earth, whom the explanation of the 
first article of the creed declared so wise and benignant, in aban- 
doning both the just and the unjust to the same destruction, had 
not manifested himself by any means in a fatherly character. 
In vain the young mind strove to resist these impressions. This 
was the more impossible since the wise and scripture-learned 
could not themselves agree as to the light in which such a phe- 
nomenon should be regarded. 

"The next summer gave a closer opportunity of knowing di- 
rectly that angry God of whom the Old Testament records so 
much. A sudden hail-storm, accompanied by thunder and light- 
ning, violently broke the new panes at the back of our house 
which looked toward the west, damaged the new furniture, de- 
stroyed some treasured books and other valuable things, and was 
the more terrible to the children, as the whole Household, quite 
beside themselves, dragged us little folks with them into a dark 
passage, where, on their knees, with frightful groans and cries, 
they thought to conciliate the wrathful deity. Meanwhile, my 
father, who was the only one self-possessed, forced open and 
unhinged the window-frames, by which we saved much glass, 
but made a broader inlet for the rain which followed the hail ; so 
that after we were finally quieted we found ourselves completely 


surrounded by floods and streams of water, in the halls and on 
the stairs." 

The poetic inclination of Goethe appeared also in his re- 
ligious yearnings, and it is interesting to see how even as a boy 
he presents an exact parallel to the religion of ancient Per- 
sia where God was worshiped under the symbol of light, and 
the sun was greeted as the visible representative of deity in the 
world. We let Goethe show the condition of his mind in his 
own words : 

"It may be taken for granted that among our other lessons 
we children had a continued and progressive instruction in re- 
ligion. But the ecclesiastical Protestantism imparted to us was, 
properly speaking, nothing but a kind of dry morality. Ingenious 
exposition was not thought of, and the doctrine appealed neither 
to the understanding nor to the heart. For that reason there were 
various secessions from the Established Church. Separatists, 
Pietists, Moravians (Hcrrnhuter), the Quiet-in-the-Land, and 
others differently named and characterized, sprang up, all of 
whom were animated by the same purpose of approaching the 
deity, especially through Christ, more closely than seemed to 
them possible under the forms of the established religion. 

"The boy heard these opinions and sentiments constantly 
spoken of, for the clergy as well as the laity divided themselves 
into pro and con. Those who dissented more or less widely 
formed the minority ; but their modes of thinking proved enticing 
on account of their originality, heartiness, perseverance, and in- 
dependence. All sorts of stories were told of their virtues and 
of the way in which these were manifested. The reply of a pious 
tinker was circulated, who when one of his craft attempted to 
shame him by asking, 'Who then is your confessor?' answered 
with great cheerfulness and confidence in the goodness of his 
cause, T have a very famous one,— none less than the confessor 
of King David.' 

"Things of this sort naturally made an impression on the 
boy, and led him into similar states of mind. In fact, he came 
to the conclusion that he might approach directly the great God 

180 GOETHE. 

of nature, the Creator and Preserver of heaven and earth, whose 
earher manifestations of wrath had long been forgotten in the 
beauty of the world and the manifold blessings in which we par- 
ticipate while upon it. The way he took to accomplish this was 
very curious. 

"The boy had chiefly kept to the first article of belief. The 
God who stands in immediate connection with' nature, and owns 
and loves it as his work, seemed to him the proper God who 
might be brought into closer relationship with man as with 
everything else, and who would take care of him, as of the mo- 
tion of the stars, the days and the seasons, and animals and plants. 
There were texts of the Gospels which explicitly stated this. The 
boy would ascribe no form to this Being: he thei-efore sought 
him in his works, and would fain build him an altar in the good 
Old Testament fashion. Natural productions were set out to 
represent the world, and over these a flame was to burn, signi- 
fying the aspirations of man's heart towards his Maker. He 
brought the best ores and other specimens out of his natural 
history collection which had been increased as chance directed. 
But the next difficulty was how to arrange and build them up. 
His father possessed a beautiful red-lacquered music-stand, or- 
namented with gilt flowers, in the form of a four-sided pyramid, 
with different elevations, which had been found convenient for 
quartets but lately -was not much in use. The boy took possession 
of this, and set up his natural specimens one above the other in 
steps ; so that it all looked quite pretty and at the same time suffi- 
ciently significant. 

"His first worship- of God was to be celebrated at early 
sunrise, but the young priest had not yet settled on how to pro- 
duce a flame which should at the same time emit an agreeable 
odor. At last it occurred to him to combine the two, as he pos- 
sessed a few fumigating pastils, which diffused a pleasant frag- 
rance with a glimmer, if not with a flame. Nay, this soft burn- 
ing and exhalation seemed a better representation of what passes 
in the heart, than an open flame. The sun had risen long before, 
but the neighboring houses concealed the east. At last it appeared 
above the roofs. The boy at once took up a burning-glass and 
applied it to the pastils, which stood on the supimit in a fine 



porcelain saucer. Everything succeeded as desired, and the ser- 
vice of devotion was complete. The altar remained as a peculiar 
ornament of the room which had been assigned him in the new 
house. Every one regarded it only as a well-arranged collec- 



tion of natural curios. The boy knew better but concealed his 
knowledge. He longed for a repetition of the solemnity. But 
unfortunately, just when the most opportune sun arose, the por- 
celain cup was not at hand : he placed the pastils on the upper 

1 g2 GOETHE. 

surface of the stand with no protection ; they were kindled ; and 
so great was the devotion of the priest, that he did not observe 
until it was too late the mischief his sacrifice was doing. The 
pastils had burned mercilessly into the red lacquer and beauti- 
ful gold flowers, and had vanished as if some evil spirits had 
left their black, ineffaceable footprints. This threw the young 
priest into the most extreme perplexity. The mischief could be 
covered up to be sure with the largest of his specimens ; but the 
spirit for new offerings was gone, and the accident might almost 
be considered a hint and warning of the danger there always is 
in wishing to approach the Deity in such a way." 

Goethe's polytheistic tendencies appear in an elaboration of 
the Christian doctrines into a religious system which was similar 
to the old gnosticism with the details of which, however, Goethe 
was probably unfamiliar. His elaboration will thei-efore remain 
a curious parallel in the eyes of any one who compares the laws 
of mental evolution in the individual and in the history of man- 
kind. We ought to remember though that the following state- 
ment must not be taken too seriously. We must bear in mind 
that here it is Goethe the poet who speaks, and he recapitulates 
merely a phase of his development, not the final result of his 
views. He says : 

"I diligently studied the various Opinions; and I had often 
enough heard it said that ultimately every man has his own re- 
ligion, so nothing seemed more natural to me than that I should 
form mine too; and this I did with much satisfaction. Neo- 
Platonism lay at the foundation; the hermetical, the mystical, the 
cabalistic, also contributed their share; and thus I built for myself 
a world that looked strange enough. 

"I could easily represent to myself a Godhead which has 
gone on producing itself from all eternit)'^; but, as production 
can not be conceived without multiplicity, so of necessity it must 
have immediately appeared to itself as a Second, which we rec- 
ognize under the name of Son; now, these two must continue 
producing, and again manifested themselves in a Third, who was 
just as substantial, living, and eternal as the Whole. With these 


three, however, the circle of the Godhead was complete; and it 
would not have been possible for them to produce another per- 
fectly equal to them. 

"But, since the creative impulse always proceeded, they cre- 
ated a fourth, which from the beginning was self-contradictory, 
inasmuch as it was, like them, unlimited, and yet at the same 
time was to be contained in them and bounded by them. Now, 
this was Lucifer, to whom the whole power of creation was com- 
mitted from this time forth, and from whom all other beings 
were to proceed. He immediately displayed his infinite activity 
by creating the whole concourse of angels, — all, again, after his 
own likeness, unlimited, but contained in him and bounded by 
him. Surrounded by such a glory, he forgot his higher origin, 
and believed that he could find it within himself ; and from this 
first ingratitude sprang all that does not seem to us in accordance 
with the will and purposes of the Godhead. 

"Now the more Lucifer concentrated himself within himself, 
the more painful must his condition have become to him, as well 
as to all the spirits whose sweet uprising to their origin he had 
prevented. And so there took place what is known to us as the 
Fall of the Angels. One part of them joined Lucifer, the others 
turned to their origin. 

"From this concentration of cosmic development — for it had 
proceeded out of Lucifer, and was bound to follow him — sprang 
all that we perceive under the form of matter, which we figure 
to ourselves as heavy, solid, and dark, but which, since it is 
descended, if even not immediately, yet by filiation, from the 
Divine Being, is just as unlimited, powerful, and eternal as its 
sire and grandsire. 

"Now since the whole mischief, if we may call it so, arose 
merely through the one-sided direction of Lucifer, the better part 
of this creation was indeed wanting; for it possessed all that is 
gained by concentration, while it lacked all that can be effected 
by expansion alone, and so the entire creation might have been 
destroyed by everlasting concentration, have become annihilated 
with its father Lucifer, and have lost all its claims to an equal 
eternity with the Godhead. This condition the Elohim contem- 
plated for a time : and they had their choice, either to wait for 

184 GOETHE. 

those eons in which the field would again have become clear, and 
space would be left them for a new creation : or, if they would, 
to seize upon that which already existed, and supply the want 
according to their own eternity. They chose the latter, and 
merely by their will supplied in an instant the whole want which 
the consequence of Lucifer's undertaking involved. They gave 
to the Eternal Being the faculty of expansion, of moving towards 
them : the peculiar pulse of life was again restored, and Lucifer 
himself could not avoid its efifects. This is the epoch when that 
appeared which we know as light, and when that began which 
we are accustomed to designate by the word 'creation.' 

"However much this multiplied itself by progressive degrees, 
through the continually working vital power of the Elohim, still 
a being was wanting who might be able to restore the original 
connection with the Godhead : and so man was created, who in all 
things was to be similar, yea, equal to the Godhead, but thereby, 
in effect, found himself once more in the situation of Lucifer, that 
of being at once unlimited and limited. And since this contra- 
diction was to manifest itself in him through all the categories 
of existence, and a perfect consciousness, as well as a decided 
will, was to accompany his various conditions, it was to be fore- 
seen that he must be at the same time the most perfect and the 
most imperfect, the most happy and the most unhappy, creature. 
It was not long before he, too, completely acted the part of Luci- 
fer. True ingratitude is the separation from the benefactor ; and 
thus that fall was manifest for the second time, although the 
whole creation is nothing and was nothing but a falling from and 
returning to the original. 

"One easily sees how the Redemption has here not only been 
decreed from eternity, but is considered as eternally necessary, 
— nay, that it must ever renew itself through the whole time of 
becoming and being {Werden und Wesen). In this view of the 
subject, nothing is more natural than for Divinity itself to take 
on the form of man, which had already prepared itself as a veil, 
and to share his fate for a short time, in order, by this assimila- 
tion, to enhance his joys and alleviate his sorrows. The history 
of all religions and philosophies teaches us that this great truth, 
indispensable to man, has been handed down by different nations, 


in different times, in various ways, and even in strange fables 
and images, in accordance with their Hmited knowledge. Enough, 
if it only be acknowledged that we find ourselves in a condition, 
which, even if it seems to drag us down and oppress us, yet 
gives us opportunity, nay, even makes it our duty, to uplift our- 
selves, and thereby to fulfil the purposes of the Godhead, so that, 
while we are compelled on the one hand to actualize our own 
selves (uns zu versclhsten) , we, on the other hand, do not fail 
to unself ourselves {ims zn entselbstigen) in regular pulsation." 

Goethe disliked the jealousy of the God of the Jews who 
would not tolerate other gods beside himself. He loved Jacobi 
for his positive Christian conviction, and was only alienated from 
him through his friend's narrowness, but even then he never 
ceased to appreciate his character and to cherish his regard. It 
is well known that the poet's pagan spirit frequently proved 
offensive to the piety of this devout Christian; but it would be 
wrong to think that Goethe was an enemy to Christianity, for he 
was both Christian and pagan at once. 

Goethe wrote in his diary of 1812: 

"Jacobi's book 'On Divine Things' does me no good. How 
could I welcome the book of a dearly beloved friend in which I 
found the proposition that 'nature conceals God'? Is it not 
natural that according to my pure, and deep, and inborn, and 
expert conception which has taught me unfalteringly to see God 
in nature and nature in God, so that this conception constitutes 
the foundation of my entire existence — is it not natural that such 
a strange and onesided and limited exposition must alienate me 
from the noble man whose heart I dearly love ? However, I did 
not indulge my painful disappointment, but sought refuge in my 
old asylum, making Spinoza's 'Ethics' for several weeks my daily 

With regard to the same book Jacobi wrote to Goethe on 
December 28, 1812 : "I am sorry that my booklet has 'pretty much 
indisposed' you. Perhaps you will read it over once more after 
a year's time and I sincerely hope that you will. I do not believe. 

186 GOETHE. 

as you do, that we are constantly diverging, but that my love for 
you cannot die, you should know." 

Goethe answered this kind letter of his friend on January 

6, 1813: 

"Men are united by convictions ; they are separated by opin- 
ions. The former are units in which we come together, the 
latter are manifolds in which we become dispersed .... The 


friendships of our youth are founded on the former; our dif- 
ferences in an advanced age are due to the latter. As to myself 
I can not, considering the diverse directions of my nature, be 
satisfied with one way of thinking. As a poet and artist I am 
polytheistic, as a naturalist I am pantheistic, and I am the one as 
decidedly as the other. In case I needed a God for my personality 
as a moral being, I should be provided therewith. Heavenly and 


earthly things comprise such a wide realm that they can be 
covered only by the activity of all taken together. You see such 
is my case, and in this way I work entirely within and without 
myself, and I desire that every one else should do the same. 
Only when what is indispensable for my own being and doing 
is treated by others as subordinate, unreal or even obnoxious, do 
I permit myself for some moments to be cross, nor do I conceal 
it from my friends or those who are near me. The mood soon 
passes and though I may be headstrong in my own way, I be- 
ware of a reaction." 

After Jacobi's death in 1819, Goethe sums up his view of him 
as follows : "Jacobi thought first of spirit, I of nature. We were 
separated by what should have united us, but the first ground of 
our relations remained unshaken. Our inclination, love and con- 
fidence remained constant, yet the loving interest became grad- 
ually less and finally disappeared. During our later labors we 
never again exchanged a friendly word. Strange that persons 
who cultivate the powers of thought could not become clear con- 
cerning their mutual relations, that they should allow themselves 
to be disturbed, through a mere onesidedness of speech, by an- 
tagonistic thought and error that could easily be removed. Why 
did we not say in season, 'Who desires the highest, must will the 
whole ; who speaks of spirit must presuppose nature ; who speaks 
of nature must presuppose spirit, or if not presuppose, must 
tacitly assume it. We cannot separate thinking from thought, 
will from what is willed.' Had we tried to understand one an- 
other we might have gone through life hand in hand, instead, 
as is now the case, at the end of our careers when contemplating 
our paths trodden in separation, with a kindly and even cordial, 
but none the less actual, regret." 

Goethe can scarcely be called a believer in Christian dogmas, 
but he always took a deep and sympathetic interest in genuinely 
pious people. His friendship for Fraulein von Klettenberg, his 
fondness for Jacobi and his intimacy with Jung-Stilling are well 
known. He went so far as to help the latter in the publication 
of his books which appeared under the titles Heinrich Stillings 

188 GOETHE. 

Jugend and Stillings Junglingsjahre. At first sight Goethe might 
be thought to hold views at the same time that seem irrecon- 
cilable, and yet there need be no inconsistency in his several 
utterances. We will here enumerate some of these apparent con- 

Goethe's poetic nature made him appreciate Roman Catholic 
ceremonies and rituals. Protestantism was too prosaic and did 
not appeal to his emotional nature. His views are worth con- 
sidering. He writes : 

"The Protestant service has too little fulness and consistency 
to be able to hold the congregation together; hence it easily 
happens that members secede from it, and either form little con- 
gregations of their own, or, without ecclesiastical connection, 
quietly carry on their civic existence side by side. Thus for a 
considerable time complaints were made that church-going di- 
minished from year to year, and also attendance at the Lord's 
Supper. With respect to both, but especially the latter, the cause 
Hes close at hand; but who dares speak it out? We will make 
the attempt. 

"In moral and religious, as well as in physical and civic, 
matters, man does not like to do anything on the spur of the 
moment; he needs a sequence from which habit results. What 
he is to love and to perform, he cannot represent to himself as 
single or isolated; and, if he is to repeat anything willingly, it 
must not have become strange to him. If the Protestant worship 
lacks fulness in general, so let it be investigated in detail, and it 
will be found that the Protestant has too few sacraments, — nay, 
indeed, he has only one in which he is himself an actor, the 
Lord's Supper; for baptism he sees only when it is performed 
on others, and is not greatly edified by it. The sacraments are 
the highest part of religion, the symbols to our senses of an 
extraordinary divine favor and grace. In the Lord's Supper 
earthly lips are to receive a divine Being embodied, and partake 
of a heavenly nourishment under the form of an earthly one. 
This import is the' same in all kinds of Christian churches. 
Whether the sacrament is taken with more or less submission to 
the mystery, with more or less accommodation as to that which is 
intelligible, it always remains a great, holy thing, which in reality 


takes the place of the possible or the impossible, the place of that 
which man can neither attain nor do without. But such a sacra- 
ment should not stand alone. No Christian can partake of it 
with the true joy for which it is given if the symbolical or sacra- 
mental sense is not fostered within him. He must be accustomed 
to regard the inner religion of the heart and that of the external 
church as perfectly one, as the great universal sacrament, which 
again divides itself into so many others, and communicates to 
these parts its holiness and eternity. 

"Here a youthful pair join hands, not for a passing saluta- 
tion or for a dance ; the priest pronounces his blessing upon them, 
and the bond is indissoluble. It is not long before this wedded 
pair bring their own likeness to the threshold of the altar. The 
infant is purified with holy water, and so incorporated into the 
church that it cannot forfeit this benefit except through the most 
monstrous apostasy. In the course of life the child goes on grow- 
ing in worldly things of his own accord, but in heavenly things 
he must be instructed. If on examination it proves that this has 
been fully done, he is received into the bosom of the church as 
an actual citizen, as a sincere and fully convinced Christian, not 
without outward tokens of the significance of this act. Now, 
only, is he truly a Christian ; now for the first time does he know 
his privileges and also his duties. But, in the meantime, a great 
deal that is strange has happened to him as a man. Through in- 
struction and affliction he has come to know how critical appears 
the state of his inner self, and there questions of doctrines and of 
transgressions will constantly occur; but punishment shall no 
longer take place. For here in the infinite confusion in which 
he must entangle himself, amid the conflict of natural and re- 
ligious claims, an admirable expedient is given him, in con- 
fiding his deeds and misdeeds, his infirmities and doubts, to a 
worthy man appointed expressly for that purpose, who knows 
how to calm, to warn, to strengthen him, to chasten him likewise 
by symbolical punishments, and at last, by complete washing away 
of his guilt, to render him happy, and to give him back, pure and' 
cleansed, the tablet of his manhood. Thus prepared, and set 
entirely at rest by several sacramental features, he kneels down 
to receive the Host ; and, that the mystery of this high act may 

190 GOETHE. 

be still enhanced, he sees the chalice only in the distance. It is 
no common eating and drinking that satisfies — it is a heavenly 
feast, which makes him thirst after heavenly drink. 

"Yet let not the youth believe that this is all he has to do : let 
not even the man believe it. In earthly relations we finally be- 
come accustomed to depend on ourselves ; and even there knowl- 
edge, understanding, and character will not always suffice ; while 
On the other hand in heavenly things we never finish learning. 
The higher feeling within us, which often finds itself not quite 
at home, is, moreover, oppressed by so much from without, that 
our own power hardly administers all that is necessary for 
counsel, consolation, and help. But to this end that remedy is 
instituted for our whole life, and an intelligent, pious man is 
continually waiting to show the right way to the wanderers, and 
to relieve the distressed. 

"And what has been so well tried throughout all of life, is 
now to show forth all its healing power with tenfold strength 
at the gate of death. According to a familiar custom, inculcated 
from youth upwards, the dying man receives with fervor those 
symbolical, significant assurances, and where every earthly war- 
ranty fails, he is assured by a heavenly one of a blessed existence 
for all eternity. He feels perfectly convinced that neither a 
hostile element nor a malignant spirit can hinder him from cloth- 
ing himself with a transfigured body, so that, in direct relation 
with the Godhead, he may partake of the boundless bliss which 
flows forth from God. 

"Then, in conclusion, that the whole man may be made holy, 
the feet are anointed and blessed. They are to feel, even in the 
event of possible recovery, a repugnance to touching this eiarthly, 
hard, impenetrable soil. A wonderful elasticity is to be imparted 
to them, by which they spurn from under the clod of earth 
which hitherto attracted them. And so, through a brilliant cycle 
of equally holy acts, the beauty of which we have only briefly 
hinted at, the cradle and the grave, however far asunder they 
may chance to be, are joined in one continuous circle. 

"But all these spiritual wonders spring not like other fruits 
from the natural soil, where they can neither be sown nor planted 
nor cherished. We must supplicate for them another region— a 


thing which cannot be done by all persons nor at all times. Here 
we meet the highest of these symbols, derived from pious tradi- 
tion. We are told that one man may be more favored, blessed, 
and sanctified from above than another. But that this may not 
appear as a natural gift, this great boon, bound up with a heavy 
duty, must be communicated to others by one authorized person 
to another ; and the greatest good that a man can gain, without 
having to acquire it by his own wrestling or grasping, must be 
preserved and perpetuated on earth by spiritual inheritance. In 
the very ordination of the priest is comprehended all that is neces- 
sary for the effectual solemnizing of those holy acts by which 
the multitude receive grace, without any other activity being need- 
ful on their part than that of faith and implicit confidence. And 
thus the priest joins the line of his predecessors and successors 
in the circle of those anointed with him, representing the highest 
source of blessings, so much the more gloriously as it is not he, 
the priest, whom we reverence, but his office ; it is not his nod to 
which we bow the knee, but the blessing which he imparts, and 
which seems the more holy, and to come the more immediately 
from heaven, because the earthly instrument cannot at all weaken 
or invalidate it by its own sinful, nay, wicked, nature. 

"How shattered to pieces is this truly spiritual connection in 
Protestantism, which declares part of the above-mentioned sym- 
bols apocryphal, and only a few canonical! — and how, by their 
indifference to some of these, will they prepare us for the high 
dignity of the others ? 

"In my childhood I was once confided to the religious instruc- 
tion of a good old infirm clergyman, who had been confessor 
of the family for many years. The 'Catechism,' a 'Paraphrase' 
of it, and the 'Scheme of Salvation,' I had at my fingers' ends : 
I lacked not one of the strong and convincing Biblical texts, but 
from all this I reaped no fruit, for as they assured me that the 
honest old man arranged his chief examination according to an 
ancient set formulary, I lost all pleasure and inclination for the 
affair, spent the last week in all sorts of diversions, laid in my 
hat the loose leaves borrowed from an older friend who had 
gotten them from the clergyman, and unfeelingly and without 

192 GOETHE. 

understanding read aloud all that I might have uttered with feel- 
ing and conviction. 

"My good intention and my aspirations in this important 
matter were still more paralyzed by a dry, spiritless routine, 
when I was about to approach the confessional. I was indeed 
conscious of having many failings but no great faults; and that 
very consciousness diminished them, since it directed me to the 
moral strength which lay within me, and which, with resolution 
and perseverance, was at last to become master over the old 
Adam. We were taught that we were much better than the 
Catholics for the very reason that we were not obliged to confess 
anything in particular in the confessional, — nay, that this would 
not be at all proper, even if we wished to do it. I did not like 
this at all; for I had the strangest religious doubts, which I 
would gladly have cleared up on such an occasion. Now, as 
this was not to be done, I composed a confession for myself, 
which, while it well expressed my state of mind, was to confess 
to an intelligent man, in general terms, that which I was for- 
bidden to tell him in detail. But when I entered the old choir 
of the ancient church of the Barefoot Friars (the church used 
by the Protestants of Frankfort) , when I approached the strange 
latticed closets in which the reverend gentlemen used to be found 
for that purpose, when the sexton opened the door for me, when 
I now saw myself shut up in the narrow place face to face with 
my spiritual grandsire and he bade me welcome with his weak, 
nasal voice, all the light of my mind and heart was extinguished 
at once, the well-conned confession-speech would not cross my 
lips. In my embarrassment I opened the book I had in my hand, 
and read from it the first short form I saw, which was so general, 
that anybody might have spoken it with quite a safe conscience. 
I received absolution, withdrew neither warm nor cold, went the 
next day with my parents to the Table of the Lord, and, for a 
few days, behaved myself as was becoming after so holy an act." 
While Goethe praises the beauty of the Roman Catholic cere- 
monies and criticizes the prosaic tenor of the Protestant religion, 
he recognizes the significance of the Reformation and expresses 
gratitude to Luther. In the very last year of his life in his 
"Conversations with Eckermarin" he said: 


"We are not in the least aware of all for which we have to 
thank Luther and the Reformation in general. We have been made 
free from the fetters of spiritual narrowness ; as a result of our 
advancing culture we have become able to go back to the source 
and grasp Christianity in its purity. We have once more the 
courage to stand on God's earth with firm feet and to recognize 
ourselves in our God-given human nature. If the spiritual cul- 
ture continues to advance, if the natural sciences grow in ever 
increasing breadth and greater depth, and if the human soul ex- 
pands, as it may, it will never surpass the sublimity and moral 
culture of Christianity as it gleams and shines in the Gospels." 

Goethe was broader then either Roman Catholic or Protes- 
tant, and in the face of an 'attempt made by Countess Bernstein 
to convert him, he maintained his position in these words (Oc- 
tober, 1809) : "I have tried my life long to be candid with myself 
and with others, and in all earthly affairs have always looked at 
the highest things; you and yours have done the same. Let us 
therefore continue so as long as it is day for us ; a sun will shine 
for others also. They will make their way to it and incidentally 
illuminate us with a brighter light. May all be again united in 
the arms of the all-loving Father !" 

Goethe was a good observer and he noticed that pious Chris- 
tians, in spite of their agreement in belief, held very different 
religious tenets. The words in which they expressed themselves 
were to some extent the same, but the sentiments, attitudes and 
conceptions of each varied according to their needs. So, for in- 
stance, he noted when Lavater met Fraulein von Klettenberg in 
Frankfort, that, although they were apparently and in all ex- 
ternalities one in their religious faith, yet they conceived of their 
Saviour in a very different manner. Goethe says in "Truth and 
Fiction," Book XIV : "It has been repeatedly claimed in times of 
toleration that every man has his own religion, his own way of 
serving God. Although I did not maintain this directly I could 
notice in the present case that men and women stand in need of 
a different Saviour. Fraulein von Klettenberg's attitude to him 
was a woman's attitude toward a lover to whom she surrenders 



unconditionally. All joy and all hope is placed in his person 
and she entrusts to him, and without doubt or hesitancy, the fate 
of her life. Lavater, however, regarded his Saviour as a friend 


S 'j:. ' i i-\''>;. ii^t' '■'':''/- 




f) its : I: 

i'l M 

After a water color by H. Lips in tlie K. K. Familien-Fideikommiss-Bibliothek. 
whom a man would jealously strive to imitate without envy and 
lovingly, whose merit he recognizes and praises and like whom 
for that reason he endeavors to become." 


Goethe was not an anti-Christian but an anti-dogmatist, and 
demurred when Lavater attempted to convert him to his rather 
narrow view of Christianity. If he had to be classified at all he 
would even have preferred an outspoken infidelity. He says in 
"Truth and Fiction" (Book XIV) : 

"All unsuccessful attempts at conversion leave him who has 
been selected for a proselyte stubborn and obdurate; and this 
was especially the case with me when Lavater at last came out 
with the hard dilemma, — 'Either Christian or atheist!' Upon 
this I declared that if he would not leave me my own Christianity 
as I had hitherto cherished it I could readily decide for atheism, 
particularly as I saw that nobody knew precisely what either 

Goethe loved and cherished the Bible ; he says : "As for my- 
self I loved and valued it; for almost to it alone did I owe my 
moral culture. The events, the doctrines, the symbols, the similes, 
had all impressed themselves deeply upon me and had influenced 
me in one way or another. Unjust, scoffing, and perverted at- 
tacks, therefore, disgusted me ; but people had already gone so far 
as willingly to admit, partly for the sake of defending many pas- 
sages, that God had accommodated himself to the modes of 
thought and power of comprehension in men; that even those 
moved by the spirit had not on that account been able to renounce 
their character, their individuality, and that Amos, a cow-herd, 
did not use the language of Isaiah, who is said to have been a 

An incident recorded by Falk under the date of November 
10, 1810, seems to stand in flat contradiction to Goethe's praise 
of the Bible. In a conversation which he carried on with a 
bigoted Roman Catholic doctor in 1810 in the presence of the 
high-minded and pious Louis Bonaparte, ex-king of Holland, he 
branded the Bible as a"Hangerous book. We let Goethe tell this 
incident in his own words as related by Falk : 

"But once when he [this bigoted man] started again an almost 
Capuchinian tirade on the dangierousness of books and the book- 
trade I could not help answering him with the opinion that the 

196 GOETHE. 

most dangerous of all books, so far as the history of the world is 
concerned, is indubitably the Bible, because no other book has 
brought so much good and so much evil to the human race. When 
I had finished this speech I was somewhat frightened at what I 
had said, for I thought the powder-mine would now explode into 
the air in all directions. Fortunately, however, it happened 
otherwise. To be sure I saw the doctor first grow pale and then 
red again from terror and wrath at these words, but the king 
composed himself with his usual gentleness and friendliness and 
said almost jokingly : 'Cela perce quelquefois que Monsieur de 
Goethe est heretique' ; ( Sometimes the heretic crops out in Mon- 
sieur de Goethe)." 

In Wilhelm Meister, Book VI, we read the following passage, 
which we cannot doubt relates an incident of Goethe's own ex- 
perience, although it may seem inconsistent with the understand- 
ing of his views we have received from other statements he has 
made. He says : "Once I prayed out of the depth of my heart, 
'Now Almighty give me faith.' I was then in the condition in 
v.hich one must be, but seldom is, when one's prayers are ac- 
ceptable to God. Who could describe what I felt in those 
moments? A powerful impulse drew my soul to the cross on 
which Jesus had perished. My soul was near to him who had 
become man and died on the cross, and then I knew what faith 
meant. 'This is faith indeed,' I cried, and started up overawed 
by the idea. For such emotions as these all words fail us." 

Goethe did not reject the Christian religion, but only refused 
to be limited by the narrowness of its dogmatism. He accepted 
the truths which Christianity has given to the world, and mark 
the reason why he accepted them : Because they cannot be claimed 
as the exclusive possession of a sect, but are the heirloom of all 
mankind. Therefore, he contends, the "scientist" has a right to 
them; and identifying his right with that of the scientist, Goethe 
claims them for himself. 

Addressing Christian believers, Goethe says: 

Ye faithful, do not claim that your confession 
Alone is truth ; for we have faith like you. 

Searchers can't be deprived of the possession 
Belonging to the world, and to me too. 


[Ihr Glaubigen ! riihmt nur nicht euern Glauben 

Als einzigen: wir glauben audi wie ihr; 
Der Forschei- lasst sich keineswegs berauben 
Des Erbtheils, aller Welt gegonnt— und mir.] 

Goethe, the searcher, the mquirer, believes in a reHgion of 
progress and would not reject any light, whatever its source. 

Goethe disliked the literal belief in dogma and the narrow 
interpretation of the sacraments. He refused to attend the bap- 
tism of Schiller's second son because the ceremony would jar 
on him, but he was not opposed to Christianity. Accordingly 
he had his own son instructed in the Christian doctrine by his 
friend Herder who at that time was superintendent-general of 
the Weimar State Church. Herder consented to undertake this 
task in a liberal spirit and Goethe thanked him in these words: 
"You will have the kindness, my old and honored friend, to 
introduce my son to the Christian fellowship in a more liberal 
manner than custom prescribes. For this I thank you most 

* * * 

We meet frequently with the statement that Goethe's con- 
fession of faith is contained in Faust's reply to Margaret.^ The 
passage is most beautiful and the words are so much like music 
as to deserve to be called a sonata of thought. Rhymes prevail 
in the beginning but are soon discarded while the verses proceed 
more and more in a dithyrambic style simply in obedience to the 
general principle of euphony. 

In contrast to the common view I wish here to protest against 
the traditional interpretation. Faust's reply to Margaret is not 
intended to be a confession of faith, either of Faust or of Goethe 
himself. We must understand the scene according to the situa- 
tion. Margaret in her anxiety about the soul of her dearly be- 
loved examines her friend as to his belief in God, and he dodges 
the question, because he is unwilling to shock her with his un- 
belief. A philosophical explanation would be out of place with 
this sweet but simple-minded girl, and so he resorts to the strate- 
gem of answering her question in fine-sounding phrases. His 
words are carefully selected so as to make the same impression 
' In the sixteenth scene of the first part of "Faust." 



upon her that she receives from sermons in church, while in 
fact his meaning is the very opposite to the doctrines preached 
by the priest. His tone, his fervor, and his style are about the 
same as a devout pulpiteer might use, but the sense is different. 
If we read the scene with this interpretation in mind, we will 
readily understand that Faust's reply to Margaret can not, and 
should not, be regarded as Goethe's confession of faith. Here 
- is the scene in Bayard Taylor's excellent translation : 


Believest thou in God? 


My darling, who shall dare 
"I believe in God!" to say? 
Ask priest or sage the answer to de- 
And it will seem a mocking play, 
A sarcasm on the asker. 


Then thou believest not! 


Hear me not falsely, sweetest coun- 
tenance ! 
Who dare express Him? 
And who profess Him? 
Saying: I believe in Him! 
Who, feeling, seeing, 
Deny His being. 
Saying: I believe Him not! 
The All-enfolding, 
The All-upholding, 
'Folds and upholds He not 
Thee, me, Himself? 
Arches there not the sky above us? 
Lies not beneath us firm the earth? 
And rise not, on us shining. 
Friendly, the everlasting stars? 
Look I not, eye to eye, on thee, 
And feel'st not, thronging 
To head and heart, the force, 
Still weaving its eternal secret, 
Invisible, visible, round thy life? 
Vast as it is, fill with that force thy 


[Glaubst Du an Gott? 


Mein Liebchen,-wer darf sagen: 
Ich glaub' an Gott? 
Magst Priester oder Weise fragen, 
Und ihre Antwort scheint nur Spott 
Ueber den Frager zu sein. 


So glaubst Du nicht? 

Misshor mich nicht, Du holdes Ange- 

sicht ! 
Wer darf ihn nennen, 
Und wer bekennen : 
Ich glaub' ihn? 
Wer empfinden 
Und sich unterwinden, 
Zu sagen: ich glaub' ihn nicht? 
Der AUumfasser, 
Der Allerhalter, 
Fasst und erhalt er nicht 
Dich, mich, sich selbst? 
Wolbt sich der Himmel nicht da 

droben ? 
Liegt die Erde nicht hier unten fest? 
Und steigen, freundlich blickend, 
Ewige Sterne nicht herauf? 
Schau' ich nicht Aug' in Auge Dir, 
Und drangt nicht AUes 
Nach Haupt und Herzen Dir 
Und webt in ewigem Geheimniss, 
Unsichtbar, sichtbar, neben Dir? 
Erfiill davon Dein Herz, so gross es 



And when thou in the feehng wholly Und wenn Du ganz in dem Gefiihle 

blessed art, selig bist, 

Call it, then, what thou wilt,— Nenn' es dann, wie Du willst. 

Call it Bliss! Heart! Love! God! Nenn's Gliick! Herz! Liebe!'Gott! 

I have no name to give it ! Ich habe keinen Namen 

Feeling is all in all : Dafiir ! Gefiihl ist Alles ; 

The Name is sound and smoke, Name ist Schall und Rauch, 

Obscuring Heaven's clear glow. Umnebelnd Himmelsgluth. 


All that is fine and good, to hear it so : Das ist Alles recht schon und gut ; 

Much the same way the preacher Ungefahr sagt das der Pfarrer auch, 

spoke, Nyr mit ein Bisschen andern Worten. 
Only with slightly different phrases. 


The same thing in all places, Es sagen's aller Orten 

All hearts that beat beneath the heav- Alle Hcrzen unter dem himmlischen 

enly day— Tage, 

Each in its language— say ; Jedes in seiner Sprache; 

Then why not I, in mine, as well? Warum nicht ich in der meinen?] 

Faust's declaration as to his belief in God consists of phrases 
and of phrases only. It doesTiot contain thoughts but displays a 
wonderful iridescence of sentiment, calculated to intoxicate the 
heart and capture the hearer's assent. 

But where can we find Goethe's true confession of faith? 

If Goethe ever wrote a confession of his faith it should be 
sought in the poem entitled "Prometheus," but even this slogan of 
the rebel, written in a mood of storm and stress, expresses only 
the religion of one of Goethe's souls. It is one-sided and incom- 
plete unless it be contrasted with some other poem such as "Gany- 
mede," "The Limitations of Mankind," or "The Divine." 

The young Goethe passed through the period of revolution, 
called Sturm und Drang. ^ He was thrilled with the revolution- 
ary spirit of titanic genius. He longed for independence and 
dared to assert himself in the face of any authority. But the old 
Goethe had calmed down, and was perfectly aware of the neces- 

" The traditional translation of this phrase, which is "the period of storm 
and stress," is not quite correct. The meaning of the German words Sturm- 
und Drang-Periode does not denote an external condition, but a subjective, 
and active attitude of a certain class of German poets. They were trying to 
take the heavens by storm and applied themselves with bold vigor. Sturm 
in this connection does not mean "a storm" but "a storming," and Drang a 
pressing forward; violent endeavor; a wild aspiration," 



sity of order, of law, of steady and peaceful conditions in life. 
This contrast between the young and the older Goethe does not 
characterize successive periods but is simultaneous. The titanic 
nature predominates in his youth and a Conservative spirit in his 


maturer years, but they are both integral parts of his being 
throughout the whole of his life. Both are reflected in his poetry 
and both permeate his religion and philosophy. 

Goethe wrote "Prometheus" at the end of the year 1774,' in a 



period of his life when he isolated himself from others and so 
felt in sympathy with the Titan who, apart from all the gods, 
constructed in his lonely workshop a world of his own. He 
communicated the poem to his friend Jacobi, and Jacobi showed 
it to Lessing in 1780 without revealing its authorship, and Les- 
sing was so pleased with it that he declared the standpoint taken 
in "Prometheus" to be his own. 

The poet gives the following account of his own intentions : 
"The fable of Prometheus began to stir within me. I cut the 
garment of the old Titan to suit my own stature, and without 
further delay began to write a drama of the strained relations in 
which Prometheus had become estranged from Zeus and the 
other-gods. He now molded men with his own, hand, had them 
endowed with life by the favor of Minerva, and founded a third 
dynasty. And indeed the governing gods had good reason to 
complain since they might be looked upon as occupying an illegiti- 
mate place between Titans and men. Part of this work is the 
monologue, which as a separate poem has made some stir in Ger- 
man literature, because by it Lessing was prompted to explain 
several important points in thought and sentiment in contrast to 
Jacobi. It became a fuse for an explosion which revealed the 
most intimate thoughts of worthy men and drove them to the 
fore, revealing conditions which unconsciously were slumbering 
in. the hearts of those members of our society who were other- 
wise most enlightened." 

The poem reads as follows : 

Zeus, cover thou thy heaven 

With cloudy mist, 

And hke a boy 

That chops off thistles, 

Exercise thy strength 

On oaks and mountain peaks. 

Yet must thou leave me 

The earth where standeth 

My hut, which was not built by thee ; 

In it my hearth, 

Whose cheerful flame 

Evokes thy envy. 

Naught do I know more wretched 
In all the world, than you, ye gods, 

[Bedecke deinen Himmel, Zeus, 

Mit Wolkfendunst 

Und iibe, dem Knaben gleich, 

Der Disteln kopft, 

An Eichen dich und Bergeshohn! 

Musst mir meiiie Erde 

Doch lassen stehn, 

Und meine Hiitte, die du nicht gebaut, 

Und meinen Herd, 

Um dessen Gluth 

Du mich beneidest. 

Ich kenne nichts Aermeres 
Unter der Sonn', als euch, Gotter ! 



So miserably 

With all your majesty, 

Ye eke out your existence 

By sacrifice 

And mumbled prayer. 

In sooth, ye'd starve 

Were not children and beggars 

Your hope-deluded dupes. 

Ihr nahret kiimmerlich 
Von Opfersteuern 
Und Gebetshauch' 
Eure Majestat, 
Und darbtet, waren 
Nicht Kindei; und Bettler 
Hoffnungsvolle Thoren. 

When I was still a child 
And knew not where to turn, 
Mine eye strayed heavenward 
To the sun, as if above there were 
An ear listening to my complaint, 
A heart like mine 
Feeling the dint of pity 
For a troubled soul. 

Da ich ein Kind war, 

Nicht wusste wo aus noch ein, 

Kehrt' ich mein verirrtes Auge 

Zur Sonne, als wenn driiber war' 

Ein Ohr, zu horen meine Klage, 

Ein Herz, wie meins, 

Sich des Bedrangten zu erbarmen. 

Who helped, me 

Against the Titans' insolence? 

Who rescued me from death. 

From slavery? 

Didst not thyself accomplish all, 

O holy, glowing heart, 

Deluded in thy youthful goodness,. 

Still glowing gratitude 

Unto the slumbering god above? 

Wer half mir 

Wider der Titanen Uebermuth? 

Wer rettete vom Tode mich, 

Von Sklaverei? 

Hast du nicht Alles selbst voUendet, 

Heilig gliihend Herz, 

Und gliihtest jung und gut, 

Betrogen, Rettungsdank 

Dem Schlafenden da droben? 

Shall I yet honor thee? For what? 

Didst thou ever assuage the pangs 

Of the sorrow-laden? 

Hast thou e'er dried the tears 

Of souls in anguish? 

Has not my manhood been wrought 

in the forge 
Of omnipotent Time 
And of Fate, 
My masters and thine? 

Ich dich ehren? Wofiir? 

Hast du die Schmerzen gelindert 

Je des Beladenen? 

Hast du die Thranen gestillet 

Je des Geangsteten? 

Hat nicht mich zum Manrie geschmie- 

Die allmachtige Zeit 
Und das ewige Schicksal, 
Meine Herren und deine? 

Thinkest thou 

That I should hate life 

And fly into deserts, 

Because not all 

My blossoming dreams 

Riped into fruit? 

Here am I, moulding men 
After my image, 
A race like mine 

Wahntest du etwa, 

Ich sollte das Leben hassen, 

In Wiisten fliehen, 

Weil nicht alle 

Bluthentraume reiften? 

Hier sitz' ich, forme Menschen 

Nach meinem Bilde, 

Ein Geschlecht, das mir gleich sei, 



To suffer, to weep, 
And to enjoy life; — 
And to disdain thee 
As I do. 

Zu leiden, zu weinen, 
Zu geniessen und zu freuen sich, 
Und dein nicht zu achten, 
Wie ich.l 

The poem "Ganymede" represents Goethe's devotion which, 
being expressed in the religious sentiment of ancient Greece! 
finds expression in a prayer of the cup-bearer of Zeus. It reads 
as follows : 

In glitter of morning 

Thou glowest around me, 

Spring, thou beloved ! 

With thousandfold passionate rapture 

All my heart thrills 

To. the touch divine 

Of thine ardor undying. 

Ambrosial Beauty! 

Oh ! that I might enfold 

Thee in this arm ! 

Alas ! on thy bosom 

Rest I, and languish, 

And thy flowers and thy grass 

Are pressed to my heart. 

Thou coolest the burning 

Thirst of my bosom, 

Morning wind exquisite ! 

Softly the nightingale 

Calls to me out of the misty vale. 

I come ! I am coming ! 

Whither? Ah! whither? 

Upward the effort ! 

The clouds they are floating 

Downwards, the white clouds 

Bow down to the longing of love. 

To me! Me! 

In your lap float me 


Embraced and embracing ! 

Aloft to thy bosom. 

All-loving Father!" 

— Tr. by William Gibson. 

[Wie im Morgenglanze 

Du rings mich angliihst, 

Fruhling, Geliebter ! 

Mit tausendfacher Liebeswonne 

Sich an mein Herz drangt 

Deiner ewigen Warme 

Heilig Gefiihl, 

Unendliche Schone ! 

Dass ich dich fassen mocht' 

In diesen Arm ! 

Ach, an deinem Busen 

Lieg' ich, schmachte, 

Und deine Blumen, dein Gras, 

Drangen sich an mein Herz. 

Du kiihlst den brennenden 

Durst meines Busens, 

Lieblicher Morgenwind! 

Ruft drein die Nachtigall 

Liebend nach mir aus dem Nebelthal. 

Ich komm,' ich komme! 

Wohin? Ach, wohin? 

Hinauf! Hinauf strebt's. 

Es schweben die Wolken 

Abwarts, die Wolken 

Neigen sich der sehnenden Liebe. 

Mir! Mir! 

In euerm Schoosse 

Aufwarts ! 

Umfangend umfangen! 

Aufwarts an deinen Busen, 

Allliebender Vater!] 

It was Goethe's intention to offset "Prometheus" by "Gany- 
mede," but it seems to us that he succeeded better in describing 



religious devotion in two others of his dithyrambic poems, en- 
titled "The Limitations of Mankind," and "The Divine." 

In all these poems, as virell as in "Prometheus," Goethe speaks 
as a believer in the Greek world-conception, and so the divine 
order is conceived as a polytheistic monotheism,, the divinities 
being represented by the celestials — "the higher beings whom we 
revere" — among whom Zeus is the omnipotent, all-embracing 
father. The poem "The Divine" reads as follows : 

Man must be noble, 
Helpful and good ! 
For this alone 
Distinguishes him 
From all things 
Within our ken. 

[Edel sei der Mensch, 
Hiilfreich und gut ! 
Denn das allein 
Unterscheidet ihn 
Von alien Wesen, 
Die wir kennen. 

Hail to the unknown 
Higher presences 
Whom we divine: 
May man be like them, 
And his conduct teach us 
To meet them in faith. 

Heil den unbekannten 

Hohern Wesen, 

Die wir ahnen ! 

Ihnen gleiche der Mensch, 

Sein Beispiel lehr' uns 

Jene glauben. 

Nature around us 

Is without feeling: 

The sun sheds his light 

On the good and the evil ; 

The moon and the stars shine 

Upon the guilty 

As well as the upright. 

Denn unfiihlend 

1st die Natur : 

Es leuchtet die Sonne 

Ueber Bos' und Gute, 

Und defn Verbrecher 

Glanzen, wie dem Besten, 

Der Mond und die Sterne. 

Storms and torrents, 
Hail and thunder, 
Roar their course, 
Seizing and taking 
All things before them. 
One after another. 

Wind und Strome, 
Donner und Hagel 
Rauschen ihren Weg, 
Und ergreifen, 
Einen um den Andern. 

Thus also Fortune 
Gropes 'mid the crowd. 
Now seizing the schoolboy's 
Curly innocence, 
Now, too, the gray crown 
Of aged guilt. 

Eternal and iron-clad 
Are nature's great laws 

Auch so das Gliick 
Tappt unter die Menge, 
Fasst bald des Knaben 
Lockige Unschuld, 
Bald auch den kahlen 
Scjiuldigen Scheitel. 

Nach ewigen, ehrnen, 
Grossen Gesetzen 



By which all things 
Must run and complete 
The course of existence. 

But man can accomplish, — 
Man alone, — the impossible; 
He discriminates, 
Chooses and judges; 
To the fleeting moment 
He giveth duration. 

His alone it is. 
To reward the good. 
To punish the wicked. 
To save and to rescue, 
To dispose with foresight 
The erring, the straying. 

And we revere 
The great immortals 
As if they were men. 
Doing in great things 
What in the lesser 
The best one of mortals 
Does or would fain do. 

Let the noble man 

Be helpful and good, 

Untiringly do 

What is useful and just ! 

Be an example 

Of those presences 

Whom we divine. 

Mussen wir AUe 
Unseres Daseins 
Kreise vollenden. 

Nur allein der Mensch 
Vermag das Unmogliche ; 
Er unterscheidet, 
Wahlet und richtet ; 
Er kann dem Augenblick 
Dauer verleihen. 

Er allein darf 

Den Guten lohnen, 

Den Bosen strafen, 

Heilen und retten, 

AUes Irrende, Schweifende 

Nutzlich verbinden. 

Und wir verehren 

Die Unsterblichen, 

Als waren sie Menschen, 

Thaten im Grossen, 

Was der Beste im Kleinen 

Thut Oder mcjchte. 

Der edle Mensch 
Sei hiilfreich und gut! 
Unermiidet schafif' er 
Das Niitzliche, Rechte, 
Sei uns ein Vorbild 
Jener geahneten Wesen!] 

Goethe was by nature devout. He declared that "only re- 
ligious men can be creative,"^ and so it was natural that he gave 
repeated expression to his faith. The same sentiment of pious 
submission to the Divine, to God, to Father Zeus, or whatever 
we may call the Divinity that sways the fate of the world, is also 
set forth in "The Limitations of Mankind," written in 1781, 
which reads as follows: 

When the primeval 
Heavenly Father 
With hand indifferent 
Out of dark-rolling clouds 
Scatters hot lightenings 

[Wenn der uralte 
Heilige Vater 
Mit gelassener Hand 
Aus rollenden Wolken 
Sengende Blitze 

' In a letter addressed to Riemer, of Mkrch 26, 1820. 



Over the earth, 
Kiss I the lowest 
Hem of His garment, 
Kneeling before Him 
In childlike trust. 

Ueber die Erde sa't, 
Kiiss' ich den letzten 
Saum seines Kleides, 
Kindliche Schauer 
Treu in der Brust. 

For with the gods 

No mortal may ever 

Himself compare. 

Should he be lifted 

Up, till he touches 

The stars with his forehead, 

No resting-place findeth 

He for his feet, 

Becoming a plaything 

Of clouds and winds. 

Denn mit Gottern 
Soil sich nicht messen 
Irgend ein Mensch. 
Hebt er sich aufwarts, 
Und beriihrt 

Mit dem Scheitel die Sterne, 
Nirgends haften dann 
Die unsichern Sohlen, 
Und mit ihm spiel en 
Wolken und Winde. 

Stands he with strong-knit 

Marrowy bone 

On the firmly founded 

Enduring Earth, 

Not high enough 

Does he reach, 

Merely to measure. 

With oaks or vines. 

Steht er mit festen 
Markigen Knochen 
Auf der wohlgegriindeten, 
Dauernden Erde; 
Reicht er nicht auf, 
Nur mit der Eiche 
Oder der Rebe 
Sich zu vergleichen. 

What distinguisheth 
Celestials from mortals? 
There are many billows 
Before them rolling, 
A stream unending; 
We rise with a billow, 
Collapse with a billow, 
And we are gone. 

Was unterscheidet 
Cotter von Menschen? 
Dass viele Wellen 
Vor jenen wandeln, 
Ein ewiger Strom: 
Uns hebt die Welle, 
Verschlingt die Welle, 
Und wir versinken. 

A little ring 
Encircles our life, 
And on it are linked 
Generations to come. 
In the infinite chain 
Of their existence. 

Ein kleiner Ring 
Begrenzt unser Leben, 
Und viele Geschlechter 
Reihen sich dauernd 
An ihres Daseins 
Unendliche Kette.] 

The contrast between these two kinds of poems, on the one 
hand "Prometheus" and on the other hand "Ganymede," "The 
Divine" and "The Limitations of Mankind," is almost a contra- 
diction. Prometheus is the rebel who defies Zeus, while the other 


poems exhibit piety, reverence, devotion for and love of the 
divine, whether gods, angels, or saints, having Zeus or God as 
the loving All-Father. 

Goethe is convinced that both standpoints are justifiable and 
that both are needed in the development of mankind. Man is 
sometimes obliged to rebel against the conditions that would 
dwarf him and hinder the growth of his individuality; he must 
be a fighter even against the gods, and in his struggle he must 
prove strong and unyielding, hard and unmovable, and yet such 
a disposition should not be a permanent trait of his character. 
The humanity of man teaches him to be tender and pliable, to be 
full of concession and compromise. It may be difficult to com- 
bine these two opposite c[ualities, but it is certain that in order to 
be human and humane man stands in need of both. Man must 
be courageous and warlike and at the same time kind-hearted 
and a peace-maker. He must be animated with the spirit of 
independence, and yet possess a spirit of reverence and regard 
for order. He must be a doubter and yet have faith. He must 
be a Titan, a rebel, an iconoclast, perhaps even an atheist, and yet 
he must be devout and filled with love of God. 

There was something of the nature of both Ganymede and 
Prometheus in Goethe. 

Goethe was too broad to be either a Christian or an anti- 
Christian. He was both, and the Christians in his time, too 
narrow to understand his position, called him a pagan. Goethe 
was sufficiently clear-sighted to see that they were Christians in 
name only, and that in spite of his unbelief he himself was a 
better Christian than they. He said: "Who to-day is such a 
Christian as Christ would have him? Perhaps I am the only 
one, although you consider me a heathen." 

Goethe was sometimes a pantheist after the heart of Spinoza, 
and, as he himself said, sometimes a polytheist who found the 
most perfect exposition of his religious views in Greek mythol- 
ogy ; again he was a Christian and a theist. To be sure he did 
not believe in the gods of Greece in the crude sense of paganism 
or idolatry, but he recognized their presence in life after the 
fashion of Greek sages, or perhaps better, of modern naturalists. 

20S eOETHE. 

conceiving the gods as factors that shape our lives. Goethe him- 
self calls them "blissfully creating forces."* 

Goethe's religious attitude has mostly been misunderstood. 
Though he gave ample evidence of his sympathy with Christian 
sentiment, he was not a Christian in the narrow sense of the 
word. To him Christianity was one form of religion like others, 
and he attributed greater importance to polytheism on account 
of its creative and artistic tendencies than to any doctrine of 
monotheism. Goethe had no objection to Christianity itself, but 
in his Christian friends he denounced the narrow spirit which 
would brook no other religions and would condemn as an object 
of abomination any different attempt at comprehending the 
divine. The Christian God-conception was to him one aspect 
only which needed correction by considering the truth of the 
pagan view, and, argued Goethe, is not the Christian view after 
all quite abstract and imaginary in comparison to the concrete, 
figures of the Ol3'mpian pantheon? If God is a spirit, his ex- 
istence must be purely spiritual, i. e., he must live in the brain 
of man, 

.... "behind 
Man's foolish forehead, in his mind." 

This spirit-God would be subjective and could not be found 
outside in nature, in the concrete world of objective existence. 

This idea is expressed in the poem "Great is Diana of the 
Ephesians," in which the artist's attitude represents Goethe's 
own sentiment. The artist chisels his ideal, the great goddess of 
the Ephesians, while Paul is preaching against idols. 

(Acts xix. 28.) 
At Ephesus in his workshop sat 

A goldsmith, filing and beating 
A golden statue; he wrought thereat, 

Still improving and further completing. 
As boy and as youth at the goddess's shrine, 
He had knelt and adored her form so divine; 
Below the girdle there under her breast, 
He saw so many creatures rest, 
And faithfully at home had wrought 

'Selig mitschaffende Krdfte. "Unterhaltung mit Falk," January 25. 1813. 



The image, as his father taught. 

So did the artist with skill and patience 

Conduct his life and art aspirations. 

11 1^1 m:^':\\<i \\\ 

And once he heard a raging crowd 
Howl through the streets, and clamor loud 
That somewhere existed a God behmd 

210 GOETHE. 

Man's foolish forehead in his mind, 

And that He was greater and loftier too, 

Than the breadth and the depth of the gods he knew. 

The artist scarce noted the words of the throng,— 

He let his prentice boy run along, 

But he himself continued to file 

The stags of Diana without guile, 

Hoping that worthily and with grace 

He might succeed to chisel her face. 

Should any one hold a different view, 

He may in all as he pleases do; 

But the craft of the master he must not despise, 

For he in disgrace will end otherwise. 

[Zu Ephesus ein Goldschmied sass 

In seiner Werkstatt, pochte. 

So gut er konnt', ohn' Unterlass, 

So zierlich er's vermochte. 

Als Knab' und Jiingling kniet' er schon 

Im Tempel vor der Gottin Thron, 

Und hatte den Giirtel unter den Briisten, 

Worin so manche Thiere nisten, 

Zu Hause treulich nachgefeilt, 

Wie's ihm der Vater zugetheilt ; 

Und leitete sein kunstreich Streben 

In frommer Wirkung durch das Leben. 

Da hort er denn auf einmal laut 
Eines Gassenvolkes Windesbraut, 
Als gab's einen Gott so im Gehirn, 
Da hinter des Menschen alberner Stirn, 
Der sei viel herrlicher als das Wesen, 
An dem wir die Breite der Gottheit lesen. 

Der alte Kiinstler horcht nur auf, 

Lasst seinen Knaben auf den Markt den Lauf, 

Feilt immer fort an Hirschen und Thieren, 

Die seiner Gottheit Kniee zieren; 

Und hofft, es konnte das Gliick ihm walten, 

Ihr Angesicht wiirdig zu gestalten. 

Will's aber Einer anders halten. 

So mag er nach Belieben schalten; 

Nur soil er nicht das Handwerk schanden; 

Sonst wird er schlecht und schmahlich enden.] 

With reference to this poem Goethe writes to Jacobi (March 
10, 1812) : 

"I am indeed one of the Ephesian artists who spends his 


whole life in the temple of the goddess, contemplating and won- 
dering and worshiping, and representing her in her mysterious 
manifestations. Thus it is impossible for me to be pleased with an 
apostle who forces upon his fellow citizens another and indeed 
a formless god. Accordingly if I were to publish some similar 
writing (to Jacobi's book On God) in praise of the great Ar- 
temis — which, however, I will not do because I belong to those 
who prefer to live quietly and do not care to stir people to 
mutiny — I would write on the reverse of the title page : 'No one 
can become acquainted with what he does not love, and the 
more perfect our knowledge, the stronger, the more vigorous, 
and the more vital must be our love, yea, our passion."^ 

Goethe mentions his love of polytheism in his autobiography 
when speaking of the poem "Prometheus." He says : 

"The Titans are the foil of polytheism, as the devil is the foil 
of monotheism, but neither the devil nor the one-sided God 
whom the devil opposed are striking figures. Milton's Satan, 
although he is characterized as goody-goody enough,^ labors 
under the disadvantage of subordination when he attempts to 
destroy the glorious creation of a supreme being. Prometheus, 
however, possesses the advantage that, in spite of superior beings, 
he shows himself capable of creating. Moreover, it is a beautiful 
and poetic thought which provides that men be produced not by 
the highest ruler of the universe, but by an intermediate char- 
acter who, however, being a descendant of the oldest dynasty, 
is worthy of and great enough for the task." 

Goethe speaks of Satan's "subordination," because in the 
Christian conception God alone is sovereign, and Satan lacks 
independence and freedom. He is a mere puppet in the hands 
of the Almighty, for even his revolt is ultimately the result of 
God's plan of creation. 

° Translated by the author. ^ r- ^u < 

A convenient collection of all the passages that have reference to Goethe s 
world-conception and religion is found in Max Heynachers book, Goethe s 
Philosophie. For the present quotations see pp. 72-73. 

' Goethe here uses the word brav, and I regret that the brav genug is 
almost untranslatable in English. The word brav in German means good 
7or "goody" in the sense of Sunday-school morality. A good boy is called 
/brav%nd the use of this word in its application to Satan is extremely 
humorous. I • J 1 


212 GOETHE. 

Prometheus is not the only rebel whom Goethe admires. He 
adds further down in the same passage : 

"The other heroes of the same kind, Tantalus, Ixion and 
Sisyphus, also belonged to my saints. Having been received 
into the society of the gods, they did not show sufficient sub- 
missiveness, and as overbearing guests provoked the wrath of 
their condescending hosts, whereby they were forced into a 
dreary exile." 

Goethe had much to suffer from the narrow spirit of 
the dogmatic Christians among his contemporaries, and not the 
least irritations consisted in ill-advised attempts at converting 
the "great pagan," as he was called by pietists. He smiled at 
the impudence and folly of those who concerned themselves 
about his future destiny, for he was confident that the clOven 
foot of his paganism would not render him unacceptable to God, 
the Father of all mankind, Jew and Gentile. Here is the fable 
which Goethe intended as an answer to his Christian friends : 

In the wilderness a holy man 

To his surprise met a servant of Pan, 

A goat-footed faun, who spoke with grace; 

"Lord pray for me and for my race, 

That we in heaven find a place : 

We thirst for God's eternal bliss." 

The holy man made answer to this : 

"How can I grant thy bold petition, 

For thou canst hardly gain admission 

In heaven yonder where angels salute : 

For lo ! thou hast a cloven foot." 

Undaunted the wild man made the plea : 

"Why should my hoof offensive be? 

I've seen great numbers that went straight 

With asses' heads through heaven's gate." 


[In der Wiisten ein heiliger Mann 
Zu seinem Erstaunen that treffen an 
Einen ziegenfiissigen Faun, der sprach : 
"Herr, betet fiir mich und. meine Gefahrt', 
Dass ich zum Himmel gelassen werd', 
Zur seligen Freud' : uns diifstet darnach." 
Der heilige Mann dagegen sprach: 
"Es steht mit deiner Bitte gar gefahrlich, 
Und gewahrt wird sie dir schwerlich. 
Du kommst nicht zum englischen Gruss: 


Denn du hast einen Ziegenfuss," 
Da sprach hierauf der wilde Mann : 
"Was hat euch mein Ziegenfuss gethan? 
Sah ich doch Manche strack und schon 
Mit Eselskopfen gen Himmel gehn."] 

Goethe devoted another short poem to the pious ass who in all 
rehgions will remain an ass forever. He says:''^ 

If the ass that bore the Saviour 
Were to Mecca driven, he 
Would not alter, but vi^ould be 
Still an ass in his behavior." 

— 7V. by Bowring. 

[Wenn man auch nach Mekka triebe 
Christus' Esel, wiird' er nicht 
Dadurch besser abgericht, 
Sondern stets ein Esel bliebe.] 

Goethe was more of a Christian than is generally assumed 
or might be inferred from his own preference for paganism. 
To be sure he was not a dogmatic Christian in the sense in which 
the term Christianity was used in those days. But Goethe would 
have been rejected also by polytheists and pagans, by Greek as 
well as Oriental devotees, on account of his latitudinarianism, 
for he was a sympathizer with all religions and could not be 
counted exclusively an adherent of any special faith. 

How greatly Goethe appreciated Christianity appears from 
many poems and prose passages of his writings. If we consider 
that as a matter of principle he never wrote poetry unless he him- 
self had experienced the sentiment he expressed, we will understand 
how devout he must have been in the days of his youth when he 
still accepted the Christian miracles and mysteries with unques- 
tioning faith. He outgrew the childlike confidence in the super- 
natural and lost his belief in miracles, but he remembered the 
sacredness of his devotion and the hours of pious bliss — a 
reminiscence well described in the first scene of his "Faust." 
When Faust in his despair decides to drink poison, he is inter- 
rupted by the Easter message of the angelic choirs and the ring- 
ing of the Easter bells, and the sweet recollection of the faith of 
his youth restores in him the love of life. 

What deep sentiment is also expressed in the third .scene 

' Hikmet Nameth, Book of Proverbs. 

214 GOETHE. 

of "Faust" ! He has returned from his walk with Wagner, his 
famulus, and sits down to find comfort in the Gospel of St. 
John. The monologue is again and again interrupted by the 
noise of a poodle, in which shape Mephistopheles approaches him. 
The diaboHc nature of the animal appears in growls by which 
he expresses his dissatisfaction with Faust's religious sentiments. 
The passage reads in Bayard Taylor's translation as follows : 

(Faust entering with poodle.) 

Behind me, field and meadow sleeping, 
I leave in deep, prophetic night, 
Within whose dread and holy keeping 
The better soul awakes to light. 
The wild desires no longer win us, 
The deeds of passion cease to chain; 
The love of Man revives within us. 
The love of God revives again. 

Be still, thou poodle ! make not such racket and riot ! 

Why at the threshold wilt snuffing be ? 

Behind the stove repose thee in quiet! 

My softest cushion I give to thee. 

As thou, up yonder, with running and leaping 

Amused us hast, on the mountain's crest, 

So now I take thee into my keeping, 

A welcome, but also a silent, guest. 

Ah, when, within our narrow chamber 
The lamp with friendly lustre glows. 
Flames in the breast each faded ember, 
And in the heart, itself that knows. 
Then Hope again lends sweet assistance. 
And Reason then resumes her speech : 
One yearns, the rivers of existence. 
The very founts of Life, to reach. 

Snarl not, poodle ! To the sound that rises, 

The sacred tones that now my soul embrace. 

This bestial noise is out of place. 

We are used to see that Man despises 

What he never comprehends, 

And the Good and the Beautiful vilipends, 

Finding them often hard to measure: 

Will the dog, like man, snarl his displeasure ? 

But ah ! I feel, though will thereto be stronger, 
Contentment flows from, out my breast no longer. 
Why must the stream so soon run dry and fail us. 
And burning thirst again assail us ? 


Therein I've borne so much probation! 
And yet, this want may be supplied us; 
We pine and thirst for Revelation, 

Which nowhere worthier is, more nobly sent, 

Than here, in our New Testament. 

I feel impelled, its meaning to determine, — 

With honest purpose, once for all. 

The hallowed Original 

To change to my beloved German. 

{He opens a volume and commences.^ 

'T is written : "In the Beginning was the Word." 

Here am I balked : who, now, can help afford ? 

The Word'? — impossible so high to rate it; 

And otherwise must I translate it. 

If by the Spirit I am truly taught. 

Then thus : "In the Beginning was the Thought." 

This first line let me weigh completely. 

Lest my impatient pen proceed too fleetly. 

Is it the Thought which works, creates, indeed? 

"In the Beginning was the Potver" I read. 

Yet, as I write, a warning is suggested. 

That I the sense may not have fairly tested. 

The Spirit aids me: now I see the light! 

"In the Beginning was the Act','^ I write. 

[Verlassen hab' ich Feld und Auen, 

Die eine tiefe Nacht bedeckt, 

Mit ahnungsvollem, heil'gem Grauen 

In uns die bessre Seele weckt. 

Entschlafen sind nun wilde Triebe 

Mit jedem ungestiimen Thun; 

Es reget sich die Menschenliebe, 

Die Liebe Gottes regt sich nun. 
Sei ruhig, Pudel ! Renne nicht bin und wieder ! 
An der Schwelle was schnoperst Du hier? 
Lege Dich hinter den Ofen nieder! 
Mein bestes Kissen geb' ich Dir. 
Wie Du draussen auf dem bergigen Wege 
Durch Rennen und Springen ergetzt uns hast, 
So nimm nun auch von mir die Pflege 
Als ein willkommner stiller Gast. 

Ach, wenn in unsrer engen Zelle 
Die Lampe freundlich wieder brennt, 
Dann wird's in unserm Busen belle, 
Im Herzen, das sich selber kennt. 
Vernunft fangt wieder an zu sprechen 
Und Hoffnung wieder an zu bliihn ; 
• Perhaps "Deed" would be a better translation. 

216 GOETHE. 

Man sehnt sich nach des Lebens Bachen, 
Ach, nach des Lebens Quelle hin. 

Knurre nicht, Pudel ! Zu den heiligen Tonen, 

Die jetzt meine ganze Seel' umfassen, 

Will der thierische Laiit nicht passen. 

Wir sind gewohnt, dass die Menschen verhohnen, 

Was sie nicht verstehn, 

Dass sie vor dam Guten und Schonen, 

Das ihnen of beschwerlich ist, murren ; 

Will es der Hund, wie sie, beknurren? 

Aiser ach, schonfiihl' ich.jiei dem besten Willen 

Befriedigung nicht mehr aus dem Busen quillen. 

A'ber warum muss der, Strom so bald versiegen, 

Und wir wieder im Durste liegen? 

Davon hab' ich so viel Erfahrung. 

Doch dieser Mangel lasst sich ersetzen, 

Wir lernen das Ueberirdische schatzen, - 

Wir sehnen uns nach Offenbarung, 

Die nirgends wvird'ger und schoner brennt 

'AIs in dem Neuen Testament. 

Mich drangt's den Grundtext aufzuschlagen, . 

Mit redlichem G^fiihl einmal 

Das heilige Original- 

In mein geliebtes Deutsch zu iibertragen. 

{Er schl'dgt ein Volum auf und schickt sich an.) 

Geschrieben steht : "Im Anfang war das Wort !" 

Hier stock' ichschon! Wer hilft mir weiter fort? 

Ich kann das Wort so hoch unmoglich schatzen; 

Ich muss es anders iibersetzen, 

Wenn ich vom Geiste recht erleuchtet bin. 

Geschrieben steht: "Im Anfang war der Sinn." 

Bedenke wohl die erste Zeile, 

Dass Deine Feder sich nicht iibereile ! 

Ist es der Sinn, der Alles wirkt und schafft? 

Es soUte stehn ; "Im Anfang war die Kraft !" 

Doch, audi indem ich dieses niederschreibe, 

Schon warnt mich was, dass ich dabei nicht bleibe. 

Mir hilft der Geist ! Auf einmal seh' ich Rath 

Und schreibe getrost: "Im Anfang war die ThatV] 

In addition to this scene which incorporates Faust's reminis- 
censes of his former faith, we will quote a few poems and sen- 
tences from his rhymed proverbs, which characterize Goethe's 
Christianity in his mature years. Here is Longfellow's transla- 
tion of Goethe's two songs, each entitled "The Wanderer's Night 



Thou that from the heavens art, 
Every pain and sorrow stillest, 

And the doubly wretched heart 
Doubly with refreshment fillest, 

I am weary with contending! 
Why this rapture and unrest? 

Peace descending 

Come, ah, come into my breast! 

[Der du von dem Himmel bist, 
Alles Leid und Schmerzen stillest, 
Den, der doppelt elend ist, 
Doppelt rait Erquickung fullest, 
Ach, ich bin des Treibens miide! 
Was soil all der Schmerz und Lust? 
Siisser Friede, 
Komm, ach komra in meine Brust!] 

/^^4n> \L \\ 


O'er all the hill-tops 

Is quiet now. 
In all the tree-tops 

Hearest thou 
Hardly a breath ; 

The birds are asleep in the trees : 

Wait : soon like these 
Thou, too, shalt rest. 

[Ueber alien Gipfeln 

Ist Ruh, 

In alien Wipfeln 

Spiirest du 

Kaum einen Hauch; 

Die Vogelein schweigen im Walde. 

Warte nur, balde 

Ruhest du auch.] 

The second of these songs Goethe composed in the night of 
September 6-7, 1780, and wrote on the wall of the little wooden 
hut on the peak of the Gickelhahn near Ilmenau. The hand- 
writing was renewed by himself August 27, 1813. The hut 
burned down August 11, 1870. 

This song of the Gickelhahn hut is familiar to. all lovers of 



music. Various English translations have been made, though 
Longfellow's is perhaps the most familiar. In its sweet sim- 
plicity the song is almost untranslatable. We add herewith 


another attempt which has the advantage of fitting the music 
of Schubert: 



Over all the mountains 

Lies peace. 
Hushed are the tree-tops ; 

Breezes cease 

Slumber caressed. 
Asleep are the birds on the bough,- 
Wait then, and thou 

Soon too wilt rest. 

After a photograph. 

Under the title "God, Sentiment and the World"'' Goethe 
published some rhymes which breathe a simple and ahnost child- 
like confidence in God. One of them reads i^" 

' Gott, Gemiith und Welt. 
" Bowring's translation, 

"Who trusts in God, 
Fears not his rod," 
is perhaps better English, but does, not render the original. 



Who on God is grounded, 
Has his house well founded. 

[Wer Gott vertraut, 
1st schon auferbaut.] 

Anothei- rhyme is translated by Bowring thus : 

This truth may be by all believed ! 
Whom God deceives, is well deceived. 

[Sogar dies Wort hat nicht gelogen: 
Wen Gott betriigt, der ist wohl be- 

Goethe was one of the few poets who dared to iritroduce the 
Good Lord upon the stage, which he did in the Prologue to 
"Faust." This remarkable scene reveals before our eyes the 
heavens where God is enthroned among the angels that appear 
before him in praise of his creation. There has scarcely been in 
Christian literature a more dignified description of God in poet- 
ical form, over which even Milton can not claim superiority. 

The Lord is greeted by the three archangels in these three 
stanzas which we quote after Bayard Taylor's translation : 


The sun-orb sings, in emulation, 
'Mid brother-spheres, his ancient 

round : 
His path predestined through Creation 
He ends with step of thunder-sound. 
The angels from his visage splendid 
Draw power, whose measure none can 

The lofty works, uncomprehended. 
Are bright as on the primal day. 


And swift, and swift beyond conceiv- 
The splendor of the world goes round. 
Day's Eden-brightness still relieving 
Night's darkness awful and profound : 
The ocean-tides in foam are breaking, 
Against the rocks' deep bases hurled, 
And both, the spheric race partaking. 
Eternal, swift, are onward whirled ! 


And rival storms abroad are surging 
From sea to land, from land to sea. 

[Die Sonne font nach alter Weise 
In Bruderspharen Weetfgesang, 
Und ihre vorgeschriebne Reise 
VoUendet sie mit Donnergang. 
Ihr Anblick giebt den Engeln Starke, 
Wenn Keiner sie ergriinden mag; 
Die unbegreiflich hohen Werke 
Sind herrlich wie am ersten Tag. 


Und schnell und unbegreiflich schnelle 
Dreht sich umher der Erde Pracht; 
Es wechselt Paradieseshelle 
Mit tiefer, schauervoller Nacht; 
Es schaumt das Meer in breiten 

Am tiefen Grund der Felsen auf, 
Und Pels und Meer wird fortgerissen 
In ewig schnellem Spharenlauf. 


Und Stiirme brausen um die Wette, 
Vom Meer aufs Land, vom Land aufs 



A chain of deepest action forging 
Round all, in wrathful energy. 
There flames a desolation, blazing 
Before the Thunder's crashing way : 
Yet, Lord, Thy messengers are prais- 
The gentle movement of Thy Day. 


Though still by them uncomprehended. 
From these the angels draw their 

And all Thy works are grand and 

As in Creation's primal hour. 

Und bilden wiithend eine Kette 
Der tiefsten Wirkung rings umber; 
Da flanimt ein blitzendes Verheeren 
Dem Pfade vor des Donnerschlags ; 
Doch Deine Boten, Herr, verehren 
Das sanfte Wandeln Deines Tags. 

Der Anblick giebt den Engeln Starke, 
Da Keiner Dich ergriinden mag, 
Und alle Deine hohen Werke 
Sind herrlich wie am ersten Tag.] 

Bayard Taylor is a translator by God's grace, nevertheless 
his version of these lines does not render either the depth of 
sentiment nor the beauty of the German original. Goethe's lan- 
guage is inimitable in its directness, its simplicity and grandeur. 
Only a man of truly religious temperament could think these 
thoughts and express them in words so magnificent and yet so 
simple and unassuming. 


GOETHE was not a philosopher, still less a psychologist, 
but none the less was he a thinker. First he was a poet, 
and though his poetry was philosophical, he cared little for phi- 
losophy and had a positive dislike for analytical and critical in- 
vestigations. So it happened that in spite of the philosophical 
trend of Goethe's poetry, we find no satisfactory explanation of 
his thoughts, and this we feel most concerning his notions of 
the deity and man's soul. Goethe clung to the conclusions 
which were forced upon him by the needs of his heart and in- 
tellect, but he did not venture into dialectics. Thus he was at 
once a pagan and a Christian, an infidel and a believer. Being 
strong in his convictions himself he had an intense dislike of 
all negativism, and while he attacked Christian pietists for their 
antagonism to Greek mythology, he defended the Christian 
Gospels against higher criticism. All this seems contradictory, 
but it is not, and he who is familiar with Goethe's way of 
thinking will understand that in all this he is perfectly consistent 
with himself. 

Goethe loved to represent his own views in contrasts, taking 
up first one standpoint and meeting it by its contrary so as to 
avoid a one-sided partisan conception. The poet might truly 
have applied Faust's words to himself, "Two souls, alas! dwell 
in my breast." How clearly Goethe was conscious of this con- 
trast within his own nature appears from a later poem addressed 
to the two-lobed leaf of an Oriental tree called Gingo Biloba,^ 
which he had planted in his garden at Weimar. Goethe says : 

'According to botanists tlie gingo tree belongs to an antediluvian flora. 
(See Dr. H. Potonies statement in Weltall und Menschheit, II, 396). Being 
one of the few plants that have been saved from extinction by some good / 
fortune, it is raised in China and Japan by artificial methods only and is no I 

goeti-ie's philosophy. 


Leaf of Eastern tree transplanted 
Here into my garden's field, 
Hast me secret meaning granted, 
Which adepts delight will yield. 

Art thou one — one living being 
Now divided into two? 
Art thou two, who joined agreeing 
And in one united grew? 

To the question, pondered duly, 
Have I found the right reply: 
In my poems you see truly 
Twofold and yet one am I. 

[Dieses Baums Blatt, der von Osten 
Meinem Garten anvertraut, 
Giebt geheimen Sinn zu kosten, 
Wie's den Wissenden erbaut. 

1st es Ein lebendig Wesen, 
Das sich in sich selbst getrennt? 
Sind es zwei, die sich erlesen, 
Dass man sie als Eines kennt? 

Solche Fragc zu ervvidern, 
Fand ich wohl den rechten Sinn; 
Fiihlst du nicht an meinen Liedern, 
Dass ich eins und doppclt bin?] 

Reproduced from a pressed leaf sent loth^t^r- \ j,^ a souvenT 
Weimar by Professor Hatfiel(^^^^oithwestern University. 

On this idea of a splitting up, which however is not ^ 
division, we quote another of Goethe's poems : 

Life I never can divide. 
Inner and outer together you see. 
Whole to all I must abide, 
Otherwise I cannot be. 
Always I have only writ 
What I feel and mean to say. 
Thus, my friends, although I split. 
Yet remain I one alway. 

[Theilen kann ich nicht das Leben, 
Nicht das Innen noch das Aussen. 
Allen muss das Ganze geben, 
Um mit euch und fnir zu hausen. 
Immer hab ich nur geschrieben 
Wie ich fiihle, wie ich's raeine, 
Und so .spalt ich mich, ihr Lieben, 
Und bin immerfort der Eine.] 

Goethe had a dishke for abstract considerations. He was 

longer found in its natural state. In Japan the gingo is regarded as a sacred 
tree, which explains its presence in the temples. 



too much of a poet and liked to think even spiritual truths in 
such a way as to let them assume a definite and concrete shape. 
He was too human not to prefer the sense-perceptible image 
which is palpable, to the formula which is general and devoid 
of all tangible elements, and so if certain views became too 
abstract for him he clothed them in poetical allegories. 

Goethe sketches his view of the soul in a fascinating poem, 
in which the explanation of its ascent to heaven and its descent 
to earth, in the sense of reincarnation, have to be taken seriously. 
It is entitled "Song of the Spirits Over the Waters," and reads 
as follows : 

The soul of man 

Is like unto water : 

From heaven it cometh, 

To heaven it riseth, 

Arid down again 

To the earth descendeth, 

Ever changing. 

Streams from the lofty 

Rocky wall 

Its crystal flood 

As spray it drifts, 

In wavy clouds 

Round slippery cliffs, 

Below met sprightly, 

And veiling its course, 

With low murmur it rusheth 

Deeper and deeper. 

Where frowning rocks 
Impede the torrent. 
Indignant it foams 
From ledge to ledge, 
Into the gorge. 

In level meadow 
The brook meanders. 
And in the spreading lake 
Mirror their faces 
The heavenly stars. 

Wind pleads with the waves 
In passionate wooing; 
Wind stirs from the bottom 
The foam-covered billows. 

[Des Menschen Seele 
Gleicht dem Wasser: 
Vom Himmel kommt es, 
Zum Himmel steigt es, 
Und wieder nieder 
Zur Erde muss es, 
Ewig wechselnd. 

Stromt von der hohen 
Steilen Felswand 
Der reine Strahl, 
Dann staubt er lieblich 
In Wolkenwellen 
Zum glatten Fels, 
Und leicht empfangen 
Walk er verschleiernd, 
Zur Tiefe nieder. 

Ragen Klippen 
Dem Sturz' entgegen, 
Schaumt er unmuthig 
Zum Abgrund. 

Im flachen Bette 

Schleicht er das Wiesenthal hin, 

Und in dem glatten See 

Weiden ihr Antlitz 

Alle Gestirne. 

Wind ist der Welle 
Lieblicher Buhler ; 
Wind mischt vom Grund aus 
Schaumende Wogen. 


Soul of man, Seele des Menschen, 

How like unto water ! Wie gleichst du dem Wasser ! 

Fortune of man, Schicksal des Menshen, 

How like unto wind ! Wie gleichst du dem Wind !] 

Judging from Goethe's lines in "The Limitations of Human- 

"We rise with a billow, 
Collapse with a billow. 
And we are gone." 

we might be led to think that the poet did not believe in immor- 
tality, but such was not the case. He denied immortality in 
a Utopian heaven, as an imaginary state of bliss where every- 
thing would be perfect, where battles were no longer to be fought, 
tasks no more to be done, dangers not to be encountered, and no 
suffering to be endured. He believed in activity, in doing and 
daring. He was a Sadducee (denying the resurrection of the 
dead, i. e., a resurrection of the body from the grave) in contrast 
to the Pharisee; and scorned the notion of an immortality in a 
purely spiritual beyond. Goethe says : 

A Sadducee I'll be fore'er. 

For it would drive me to despair, 

If the Philistines who now cramp me 

Would cripple my eternity. 

'Twould be the same old fiddle-faddle, 

In heaven we'd have celestial twaddle. 

[Ein Sadducaer will ich bleiben !— 
Das konnte mich zur Verzweiflung treiben, 
Dass von dem Volk, das hier mich bedrangt, 
Auch wiirde die Ewigkeit eingeengt: 
Das war doch nur der alte Patsch, 
Droben gab's nur verklarten Klatsch.] 

But in spite of siding with the Sadducee in questions of 
resurrection, Goethe cherishes the conviction that the soul is 
immortal, and he insists on it again and again. We do not pos- 
sess immortality, but we must earn it. As Christ expresses it, 
we must lay up treasures which neither moth nor rust doth 

' See page 206. 



corrupt and where thieves do not break through or steal. We 
are tradition and we live on as tradition. Our own immortali- 
zation is the purpose of our life. Goethe says : 

Drop all of transiency 
Whate'er be its claim, 
Ourselves to immortalize, 
That is our aim. 

[Nichts vom Verganglichen, 
Wie's auch geschah! 
Uns zu verewigen 
Sind wir ja da.] 

The same idea is expressed in another poem called "An 
Interlude" which was set to music by J. N. Hummel thus : 


^■^'jij' i ffSlt?^^ ^ 

1. LaBtfah-ren bin das All-zu-fluch-ti-ge; ihrsuchtbei 

2. Undso ge-winntsich das Le-ben-di-gedurchFolg'aus 

3. Solostsich je- ne gro-Be Fra - ge nachunserm 

erett, ^ »■ / 1 



1. ihmver-ge-bensRat! In demVer-gang - nenlebtdas; 

2. Fol-ge neu-e Kraft;denndieGe - sin - nung,die be- 

3. zweiten Va-ter- land ;denn das Be-stan-digederird'schen 

t t f 

1. Tiich-ti - ge, ver - e - wigt sich in scho-ner 

2. Stan - di - ge, sie macht den Men - schen dau - er- 

3. Ta - ge, ver- biirgt uns e - wi - gen Be 






i^n ^ \\-\ H ^ 

1. Tat, ver - e - wigt sich in 

2. haft, sie macht den Men-schen 

3. stand, ver- biirgt uns e - wi 

scho-ner Tat. 
dau - er - haft, 
gen Be -stand. 

Goethe's philosophy. 227 

This poem, which belongs to Goethe's masonic verses, was 
sung as a quartette in the Lodge AmaHa at Weimar, September 
3, 1825. We have taken the song from Wernekke's book on 
"Goethe and the Royal Art."^ Translated into English it reads 
as follows : 

Oh drop the transient, drop it from our lives ! 

Thence help is never realized. 
In past events the valiant good survives, 

In noble deeds immortalized. 

And life acquires its vitality. 

Throughout causation's endless chain. 
For character gives man stability. 

Endeavor makes that he remain. 

Thus the great question of our future home 

At last is for solution rife: 
For the enduring while on earth we roam, 

Assureth us eternal life. 

The Egyptian method of building pyramids and of immor- 
talizing the bodies of the dead by embalming and mummifying, 
is erroneous; rather let the tradition of which we consist and 
which we impart to others be of the right kind. The greatest 
treasures we can give to others are ourselves, our souls, the 
truths which we have discovered, our hopes, our loves, our ideals. 
Goethe says in one of his most vigorous poems : 

It matters not, I ween, [Und wo die Freunde f^ulen. 

Where worms our friends consume, Das ist ganz einerlei. 

Beneath the turf so green, Ob unter Marmor-Saulen 

Or 'neath the marble tomb. Oder im Rasen frei. 

Remember ye who live, Der Lebende bedenke, 

Though frowns the fleeting day, Wenn audi der Tag ihm mault, 

That to your friends you give Dass er den Freunden schenke 

What never will decay. Was nie und nimmer fault.] 
— Tr. by Edgar Alfred Bowring. 

Goethe's notion of immortality was closely connected with 
his conception of evolution. Pie believed in growth and higher 

' Goethe und die konigliche Kunst. Von Dr. Hugo Wernekke, vormals 
Meister vom Stuhl der Loge Amalia in Weimar. Leipsic, 1905. 

228 GOETHE. 

development, or what to-day we call "evolution." Immortality 
according to his idea depended on ourselves, and he regarded the 
human soul as an organic center which he sometimes called with 
Leibnitz "mOnad" and sometimes with Aristotle "entelechy." 
Goethe says in a letter to Knebel of December 3, 1781 : 
"It is an article of my faith that only through fortitude and 
faithfulness in our present condition can we rise to a higher 
plane of being in our next existence and thus become capable of 
entering upon it from this temporal existence of ours to the 
beyond in eternity." 

The present life, at any rate this world, not a beyond, de- 
mands our complete attention. Says Goethe in the second part 
of "Faust": 

The sphere of earth is known enough to me ; 
The view beyond is barred immutably: 
A fool, who there his blinking eyes directeth, 
Above the clouds a place of peers detecteth ! 
Firm let him stand, and look around him well ! 
This world means something to the capable. 
Why needs he through eternity to wend? 
He here acquire^ what he can apprehend. 

[Der Erdenkreis ist mir genug bekannt. 
Nach driiben ist die Aussicht uns verrannt; 
Thor, wer dorthin- die Augen blinzend richtet, 
Sich iiber Wolken Seinesgleichen dichtet! 
Er stehe fest und sehe hier sich um; 
Dem Tuchtigen ist diese Welt nicht stumm. 
Was braucht er in die Ewigkeit zu schweifen! 
Was er erkennt, lasst sich ergreifen.] 

This passage proves that when Goethe speaks of "the be- 
yond," he means beyond the grave, but still in this actual world 
of ours ; when he speaks of "eternity" he means the infinite vista 
of higher life before us, or perhaps the condition of timelessness, 
but not a heaven with angelic choirs. 

Even our immortalized existence is and will remain a constant 
struggle. Says Faust: 

Yes! to this thought I hold with firm persistence; 
The last result of wisdom stamps it true; 


He only earns his freedom and existence, 

Who daily conquers them anew. 
Then dared I hail the Moment fleeing: 

"Ah, still delay— thou art so fair!" 
The traces cannot, of mine earthly being, 

In eons perish, — they are there ! 

— Translated by Bayard Taylor. 

[Ja ! diesem Sinne bin ich ganz ergeben, 

Das ist der Weisheit letzter Schluss: 

Nur der verdient sich Freiheit wie das Leben, 

Der taglich sie erobern muss. 

Zum Augenblicke diirft ich sagen: 

Verweile doch, du bist so schon ! 

Es kann die Spur von meinen Erdentagen 

Nicht in Aeonen untergehn.] 

Goethe's view of immortality was not that of the orthodox 
Christian. It was much more kin to Oriental philosophy, and 
in spite of his conception of the soul as a monad or entelechy 
after the fashion of the Brahman atman, his belief in immor- 
tality in all practical considerations bore a close resemblance to 
Buddhist doctrines.* This is the more remarkable as in Goethe's 
time only distant echoes, of the wisdom of the East had reached 
Europe. But these echoes were sufficient for Goethe to say in 
a letter to the artist Meyer, dated August 24, 1823: "When one 
comes upon the Orientals one finds remarkable things." (Man 
komme iiber die Oricntalcn, da findct man erstaunliche D'mge.) 
But with all his fondness for Orientalism Goethe was neither a 
mystic nor an admirer of romanticism. He was first of all a 
lover of clear and well-defined thought, and if he belonged to 
any special type, he was a Greek, — but he was a Greek because 
the true Greek was cosmopolitan and the genius of Greek an- 
tiquity was identical with humanitarianism. Or, in other words, 
Goethe was convinced that humanitarianism had found its purest 
expression in the civilization and religion of ancient Greece. 

The main tenets of immortality, and even of reincarnation, 
are repeatedly expressed in Goethe's own writings and in his 

*The subject has been treated in an article "Brahmanism and Buddhism, 
or the Religion of Postulates and the Religion of Facts" in The Open Court, 
Vol. X, p. 4851 ff. For further discussions on the soul see "The Soul in 
Science and Religion," Monist, XVI, 219-253; "Life and the Soul," Monist, 
XVIII, 192-216; "Panpsychism and Panbiotism," Monist, III, 234-257. 

230 GOETHE. 

letters. In his writings Goethe abstained from committing him- 
self to the belief in a soul-entity, and his views are stated in 
such general terms that they might suit either the Buddhists 
or the Vedantists, but in his conversations he went further, 
taking decidedly the Brahman view, and we will here present 
those additional expressions of his thought which he mentions 
privately to Eckermann and Falk. 

Goethe said to Eckermann on September 1, 1829: 

"I do not doubt our continuance, for nature can not do 
without continuity; but we are not all immortal in the same 
way, and in order to manifest himself as a great entelechy, a 
man must first be one." 

Here Goethe falls back upon a technical term of Aristotle 
denoting that something which makes things actual. The word 
"entelechy" means the quality of having become complete, of 
being perfected, or having attained its purpose,^ and is used 
in contrast to "dynamics,"^ i. e., potential existence, which is 
the idea of a thing, its possibility, its mere potentiality. Ac- 
cordingly, entelechy denotes that principle or factor which ren- 
ders things actual. 

The idea of an entelechy as a separate being is decidedly 
metaphysical and, if taken seriously, would lead to dualism. 
There is not reality, and a principle that makes reality real. 
There is not motion, and an agent of motion, a being that makes 
motion move. There is not actuality, and a thing that makes 
actuality act. The actuality of things i and also of living beings 
is their existence itself, and living beings (i. e., organisms) 
originate in a slow process of evolution by a combination of their 
parts, or as we would better call it, by organization. We may 
regard them as actualizations of eternal types, but in that case 
we can only mean their potential existence, which is the possi- 
bility of their special combinations, in the same sense as mathe- 
matical truths are eternal and exist even before any mathema- 
tician has discovered and actualized them. 

= ecTeXe'xeio is derived from ei-reX^s, "perfect," and ^x"", "to have." The 
adjective ei-reXiis means also "powerful, mighty, commanding" ; and the verb 
evTiWeiv, from which it is derived, "to enjoin, to command." The root of the 
latter is the same as that of the noun reXos, "end, purpose." 

' Sivafiis, "potentiality." 

Goethe's philosophy. 231 

Goethe apparently takes the word in the sense of an entity. 
On March 2, 1830, we find the term "entelechy" mentioned 
again in another slightly different connection. There he is re- 
ported as having said : 

"The persistence of the individual and the fact that man 
rejects what do^s not agree with him, are proofs to me that such 
a thing as an entelechy exists. Leibnitz cherished similar ideas 
concerning such independent entities, except that what we call 
'entelechy' he called 'monad.' " 

Ahnost seventeen years prior to these conversations with 
Eckermann Goethe used the term "monad" in a talk with Falk 
who accompanied him on his return from the funeral of Wie- 
land. With reference to the impossibility that Wieland's soul 
could have been annihiliated, Goethe said: 

"There can be no thought of an annihilation in nature of 
such high psychic powers, nor under any conditions, for she is 
not wasteful of her capital. Wieland's soul is by nature a treas- 
ure, a real gem. Moreover, during the whole of his long life 
he did not use up these spiritual and beautiful talents, but in- 
creased them .... 

"A personal continuance of our soul after death by no means 
conflicts with the observations which I have made for many years 
concerning the constitution of our own being and all existences in 
nature. On the contrary, it seems to be an outcome of them 
and finds in them new confirmation. 

"How much or how little of a personality deserves to be 
preserved, is another question, and an affair which we must leave 
to God. At present I will only say this : I assume different 
classes and degrees of ultimate aboriginal elements of all beings 
which are, as it were, the initial points of all phenomena in 
nature. I might call them souls because from them the anima- 
tion of the whole proceeds. Perhaps I had better call them 
monads. Let me retain this term of Leibnitz, because it ex- 
presses the simplicity of these simplest beings and there might 
be no better name. Some of these monads or initial points, 
experience teaches, are so small and so insignificant that they 
are fit only for a subordinate service and existence. Others how- 
ever are quite strong and powerful ■ • . . 

232 GOETHE. 

"All monads are by nature so indestructible that they can 
not stop or lose their activity at the moment of dissolution, but 
must continue it in the very same moment. Thus they only part 
from their old relations in order to enter at once into new ones. 
In this change all depends on the power of intention which re- 
sides in this or that monad. 

"Each monad proceeds to whithersoever it belongs, into the 
water, into the air, into the earth, into the fire, into the stars, 
yea the secret tendency which conducts it thither, contains at 
the same time the secret of its future destiny. Any thought of 
annihilation is quite excluded .... 

"Should we venture on supposition, I really do not under- 
stand what could prevent the monad to which we owe the ap- 
pearance of Wieland on our planet to enter in its new state of 
existence into the highest combination of this universe. By its 
diligence, its zeal, its genius, through which it has incorporated 
into its own existence so many historical states, it is entitled to 
anything. I should not be astonished at all should I, after mil- 
lenniums, meet Wieland again as a star of the first magnitude. 
Then I should see him and bear witness how he with his dear 
light would gladden and quicken everything that would come 
near him. 

"To bring light and clearness into the nebular existence of 
some comet should be deemed a joyous task for a monad such as 
the one of our Wieland ! Considering the eternity of this uni- 
verse of ours, no other duty, generally speaking, can be assumed 
for monads than that they in their turn should partake of the 
joys of the gods as blessed creative powers. They are conver- 
sant with the becoming of creation. Whether called or uncalled, 
they come by themselves from all sides, on all paths, from the 
mountains, from the oceans, from the stars. Who can prevent 

"I am sure that I, such as you see me here, have lived a 
thousand times, and hope to come again another thousand times." 

There is a great lack of lucidity in these sentences. On the 
one hand the monads are the simplest realities, a kind of atoms, 
which belong to fire, water, earth, and other elementary exis- 
tences; on the other hand, they are distinct agencies, and are 


introduced to personify the law that sways the formation of a 
nebula into a planetary system; and again they are assumed to 
be psychic entities. Perhaps some monads are thought to be 
chemical atoms and others psychic powers; and the latter, after 
the fashion of the Greek deities, are expected to do the work 
of the natural laws. Such thoughts are poetry, not science; 
fiction, not psychological facts; mythology, not philosophy. 

The soul is a unity but its unity is due to unification. The 
unity of the soul is not rigid; it is not a monad, not an entity 
of any substance nor a center of forces, but it is the unity of 
system such as we observe in organisms. The soul is built up 
not unlike a well-governed state, into a centralized common- 
wealth of sentiments and impulses, sensations, yearnings, more 
or less checked by different considerations, called self-control. 
Ideas, volitions and aspirations, and the whole of this spiritual 
organism constitute a definite personality which is called the 
self, or the ego. There is no need of assuming the existence of 
a nucleus around which all these psychical activities cluster; the 
system itself is its unity and this system is the product of the 
dominating purpose which animates all actions and their aims. 

If we knew Goethe from this passage on the soul-monad 
alone we would say that he was a mystic. We grant that he 
had a mystic vein whenever he spoke of the soul, but even 
here he disliked the excrescences of mysticism. He avoided 
having anything to do with clairvoyance and other pathological 
or semi-pathological phenomena. He not only disliked to delve 
into inquisitions of mysterious events, but even to analyze psycho- 
logical problems irj abstract speculations. Thus his views re- 
mained hazy and indistinct. He accepted immortality as a fact, 
not because it could be proved, — in fact he thought it could not 
be proved, — but because he could not dispense with an infinite 
outlook into the past as well as the future. 

Goethe's conversation with Falk is perhaps the most impor- 
tant passage to be quoted on the mooted topic. It may be well to 
bear in mind that it was Falk and not Goethe who wrote these 
sentences, and that they therefore must be used with discretion. 
Nevertheless we can not doubt that Goethe held similar views, 
and that he believed in the existence of monads or entelechies. 

234 GOETHE. 

Yea the expression was so dear to him that in his first conception 
of the conclusion of "Faust" he used the word entelechy when 
saying that Faust's soul was carried up to heaven by angels. 
In the printed editions he replaced it by the term "Faust's Im- 

Eckermann has recorded several of Goethe's remarks which 
corroborate the impression that he held these notions. For in- 
stance under March 11, 1828, we find the following comment 
of Goethe's : 

"Each entelechy is a piece of eternity, and those few years 
during which it is joined to its terrestrial body do not make it 

In a conversation with his friends, Chancellor von Mueller 
and Herrn von Riemer, October 19, 1823, Goethe declared that 
it would be quite impossible for a thinking being to entertain 
the idea of his own non-existence or the discontinuance of his 
thought and life. Accordingly every one carried a proof of his 
own immortality directly within himself, but as soon as he tried 
to commit himself to objective statements, as soon as he would 
venture to come out with it, as soon as he wanted to prove dog- 
matically or comprehend a personal continuance, as soon as he 
would bolster up this inner observation in a commonplace way, 
he would lose himself in contradictions. 

In his "Prose Sayings" (1028-1029), Goethe says: 

"The highest we have received from God and Nature is life, 
viz., the rotating motion of the monad around itself,; which 
knows no rest nor ceasing. The tendency to preserve and cherish 
life is naturally and indelibly inborn in every one, but its nature 
remains a mystery to us as well as to others. The second favor 
which comes from the Supreme Being is what we call experience 
in life, our becoming aware of things, and the influences which 
the living and moving monad exerts upon the surroundings of 
the outer world. Thereby the monad feels itself as infinite within 
and limited without." 

In a conversation with Chancellor von Miiller, February 25, 
1824, Goethe expressed his reluctance to investigate the question 
of Hfe after death: 

"To be engrossed with ideas of immortality is only for the 

Goethe's philosophy. 


leisure classes, and especially for women who have nothing to 
do. A capable man who needs to make himself useful here, and 
who accordingly has to exert himself daily, to struggle and to 


work, leaves the future world alone and is active and useful in 
this one." 

Considering all these quotations it is certain that Goethe as- 
sumed the existence of a soul-entity, an entelechy or monad. 



which in his opinion was necessary for comprehending the nature 
of the soul and its immortahty, and the latter was not the tra- 
ditional Christian, but an Oriental belief, i. e., a reincarnation or 

Drawing by Schmeller. 

metempsychosis of some kind. He speaks repeatedly of his 
former existences ; so for instance in a poem addressed to Frau 


von Stein, he declares that in the sympathy which binds their 
souls, he feels that in "by-gone ages she must have been either 
his sister or his wife."'^ 

When he traveled in Italy Goethe declared that he must 
have lived there, and he went so far as to state that it must have 
been in the days of the Emperor Hadrian. He wrote on October 
12, 1786 from Venice: "Indeed I feel even now as if I were not 
seeing things here for the first time, but as if I had seen them be- 
fore." Goethe sympathized with the cosmopolitan spirit of Empe- 
ror Hadrian. The personality of Hadrian, his ideals and actions, 
were congenial to Goethe, and so the sight of the monuments, 
being associated with ideals dear to the German poet, found an 
echo in his heart. There was something kin in Goethe's soul, and 
so it is natural that everything in Italy seemed familiar to him. 
He therefore concludes : "I must have been here before; I must 
have lived in those days, for I have seen all this before." 

We believe that there is a truth at the bottom of this idea, 
for Goethe's soul is composed of all the aspirations that entered 
into the rich fabric of ideas which made up his personality. We 
do not originate at the hour of birth, nor in the moment of con- 
ception. All of us, all human beings, were present when primi- 
tive man in the circle of his family and fellows felt the need of 
communicating" his thoughts, when he uttered the first and still 
imperfectly articulated words. We were present in the minds of 
the prehistoric inventors of tools, of the wheel, of the needle, 
etc. We have lived with our ancestors and the sages of yore' 
exactly to the extent that their aspirations, their work, their ac- 
complishments are preserved in us and continue to be part of our 

Goethe's view of the soul as a monad, a unit, a certain some- 
thing which migrates from one personality to another and is 
reincarnated again and again, is untenable from the scientific 
conception of things spiritual, because spiritual things are not 
entities. They are not substantial, and they can never be monads. 
If the soul is not a substantial entity that originates ; if it is form 
and not matter or energy, its continuance can not depend upon 

' Ach, du warst, in abgelegten Zeiten, 

Meine Schwester oder meine Frau. 

238 GOETHE. 

the identity of a substance of any kind but must be a preserva- 
tion of form. This in fact is the real state of things, for a 
preservation of form actually takes place in our bodily constitu- 
tion. There is a preservation of our bodily appearance under 
constant slow modifications ; we retain the structure of our sense 
organs, and especially of our memory. The continuity of our 
life is simply due to the preservation of form in the constant 
flux of the vital functions which constitute life. The changes, 
growth, and all the various fluctuations of our body account most 
easily for those of our consciousness, and the preservation of 
form — of soul-forms — is not limited to the span of our lives, it 
takes place also in the development of the entire life of man- 
kind. The souls of the past are preserved in the souls of the 
present generation. They are transferred by heredity and edu- 
cation from parents to children and children's children. 

With all due respect for his greatness, we believe that Goethe 
has not elaborated his views of the soul nor matured them into 
clear and scientifically tenable propositions. He was too much 
of a poet and too little of a philosopher,— in spite of his several 
scientific labors. He actually disliked explanations in abstract 

Goethe was neither a spiritualist nor a materialist. He had 
common sense enough not to accept the superstitions of ghosts 
and spooks, but on the other hand he could not be prevailed 
upon to join the opposite camp of those who would deny the 
very existence of mind and its significance. He lost no oppor- 
tunity to ridicule such shallow rationalists as Nicolai of Berlin, 
whose zeal for exterminating spirits consisted in a repudiation of 

Though Goethe was very reluctant to accept the marvelous 
stories of telepathy he knew full well that man's mind is capable 
of understanding things which are not directly approachable by 
the senses, and that in the same sense the mind penetrates to 
distant places. This view with its rational explanation is very 
drastically and simply s6t forth in a poem entitled "Effect at a 
Distance." Telepathy is indeed possible, but the true telepathy 


is no mysterious power, but mere logical deduction. Nor are our 
mental functions thought-waves which proceed in undulations 
from man's brain outward to other parts of the world. Man's 
judgments are simply an interpretation of the facts presented 
to him in sensations, and this power of the mind yields most 
marvelous results. Frequently it enables man to know with 
great distinctness and positive certainty things that have hap- 
pened long ago or at a great distance. Just as the presence 
of a star is indicated by the sense impression of a speck of light 
on the retina of the eye, so a certain symptom may betray a 
situation of the occurrence of an event which itself could not be 
observed, and this is true telepathy undeniable by the grossest 
materialist. On this telepathy is based our communication by 
telephone, telegraph and wireless telegraphy; electric waves of 
a short or long duration are transferred, so-called dots and dashes 
and their several combinations represent the several letters of the 
alphabet, as well as other symbols known to the operators at both 
ends. There are electric waves, not thought waves, that go to 
a distance, but the mind deciphers the meaning that is given to 
the different forms of the transmitted undulations. This is the 
method by which science discovers the hidden secrets of natural 
laws, the origin of creation, the development of evolution, etc. 
Such telepathy is possible, and the law of its operation will be 
seen to be very simple indeed. Scarcely ever has any more 
humerous, and at the same time more instructive, presentation 
of the problem been given than is set forth in Goethe's poem, 
a versified translation of which is here attempted. It reads thus : 


The Queen has a party, the candles are bright, 

Her guests a game start playing; 

She says to her page : "Thy foot is Hght, 

Fetch the counters," and then adds, saying: 

"They lie to hand 

On my dresser stand." 

The lad is quite nimble and zealous, 

He hies to the end of the palace. 

Beside the Queen, her sherbet, sips 

A pretty maid of honor. 

She brings the cup so hard to her lips 

240 GOETHE. 

That some is spilled upon her. 

A cry of distress 

For the exquisite dress ! 

And, with the fresh stains from the chalice, 

She runs to the end of the palace. 

The damsel and the returning boy 

In the lonely hall were meeting ; 

None knew of their love, but neither was coy 

With open arms of greeting. 

Glance spoke to glance 

Of the glorious chance; 

And, heart to heart, in seclusion. 

They kissed and embraced with effusion. 

At last they tore themselves apart. 
The maid to her chamber was slipping; 
The youth returned, with a beating heart, 
O'er swords and flounces tripping. 
The Queen's eye, trained, 
Saw the lad's vest stained, 
Like the Queen of Sheba in glory. 
She knew at once the whole story. 

She addressed her lady-in-waiting, elate, 
"You argued, with insistence, 
Some time ago in our little debate. 
That the. mind does not act at a distance; 
That the presence we face 
Alone we can trace ; 

To the distance are reaching no forces. 
Not even the stars in their courses. 

"Some sherbet, you see, has been spilled at my side. 

And lo ! you may call it a wonder ! 

It stained the vest of the lad that hied 

To the end of the palace yonder. 

Have a new one my boy, 

Because I enjoy, 

That a proof for my views you unfolded; 

I'll pay it, nor shall you be scolded." 


Die Konigin steht im hohen Saal, 

Da brennen der Kerzen so viele; 

Sie spricht zum Pagen : "Du laufst einmal 

Und hoist mir den Beutel zum Spiele. 

Er lieget zur Hand 


Auf meines Tisches Rand." 
Der Knabe, der eilt so behende, 
War bald an des Schlosses Ende. 

Und neben der Konigin schliirft zur Stund' 

Sorbet die schonste der Frauen. 

Da brach ihr die Tasse so hart an dem Mund, 

Es war ein Greticl zu schauen. 

Verlegenheit ! Scham! 

Urn's Prachtkleid ist's gethan ! 

Sie eilt und fliegt so behende 

Entgegen des Schlosses Ende. 

Der Knabe zuriick zu laufen kam 

Entgegen dfer Schonen in Schmerzen ; 

Es wusst' es Niemand, doch Beide zusamm', 

Sie hegten einander im Herzen; 

Und o des Glucks, 

Des giinst'geii Geschicks ! 

Sie warfen. mit Brust sich zu Briisten 

Und herzten und kiissten nach Liisten. 

Doch endlich Beide sich reissen los; 

Sie eilt in ihre Gemiicher; 

Der Page drangt sich zur Konigin gross 

Durch alle die Degen und Facher. 

Die Fiirstin entdeckt 

Das Westchen befleckt : 

Fiir sie war nichts unerreichbar, 

Der Kon'gin von Saba vergleichbar. 

Und sie die Hofmeisterin rufen lasst: 
"Wir kamen' doch neulich zu Streite, 
Und Ihr behauptet steif und fest, 
Nicht reiche der Geist in die Weite; 
Die Gegenwart nur, 
Die lasse wohl Spur; 
Doch Niemand wirk' in die Feme, 
Sogar nicht die himmlischen Sterne." 

"Nun seht ! So eben ward mir zur Seit' 

Der geistige Siisstrank verschiittet, 

Und gleich darauf hat er dort hinten so weit 

Dem Knaben die Weste zerriittet.— 

Besorg' dir sie neu ! 

Und weil ich mich freu', 

Dass sie mir zum Beweise gegolten, 

Ich zahl' sie 1 sonst wirst du gescholten."] 

242 GOETHE. 

Under the title "God and World," Goethe published several 
philosophical poems, among which one entitled "One and All," 
ends with the lines : 

And into naught we all must fall 
If e'er in life we shall remain ; 

while the poem "Bequest" makes the opposite statement saying: 

No being into naught can fall; 
The eternal liveth in them all. 

This contrast is intentional on Goethe's part; he had written 
the Poem, "One and All" in a mood which may appropriately be 
characterized as "Goethe's Nirvana." But Goethe found himself 
misunderstood. A German naturalist association took the lines 
as a motto in a connection which seemed to interpret the idea that 
death ends all; so Goethe found himself urged to show the re- 
verse to this statement of self-surrender and therefore wrote 
the poem "Bequest" to prove that while the individual must 
identify himself with the All, his very individuality is preserved 
in the evolution of soul. 

We have further to add that the lines offer some difficulties 
in interpretation, especially verse two, line four, of "Bequest," 
where "the Wise One" has been differently construed by different 
interpreters of Goethe's works. Some believe they find in the 
passage an endorsement of Kant's subjective notions that it is 
the astronomer who prescribes to the planets their orbits, and in 
that case "the Wise One" would be Copernicus ; otherwise, we 
ought to understand by "Wise One" the Omniscient Architect 
of the world, — a masonic idea;^ and the meaning in that case 
would be that truth comes from God who prescribes their courses 
to the celestial bodies. 

Terse three of the same poem contains indeed an echo of 
Kant's doctrine of the a priori, including the categorical im- 
perative, viz., that the soul contains a priori all the rules and laws 
of purely formal thought, and also the standard of moral ob- 
ligation. It is (as verse 4 declares) pure reason which enables 

'Goethe was a Mason and used to write poems for Masonic festivals, 
see page 227. 



US to utilize all sense-material ; the senses are reliable if regulated 
by reason. 

Our translation is as literal as possible, while preserving also 
as far as possible tlie meter of the original. 


Into the limitless to sink, 
No one, I trow, will ever blink. 
For there all sorrow we dismiss. 
Instead of cravings, wants untold, 
Fatiguing demands and duties cold. 
Surrender of one's self is bliss. 

O, World-soul, come to fill our lives. 
For he who with thy spirit strives 
Attains the height of his vocation. 
Then, sympathetic spirits, speed us ; 
Great masters, gently higher lead us 
To the Creator of creation. 

In re-creating the created. 

Lest fossilize the animated. 

Aye, active power, is manifest; 

The non-existing actualizing. 

In younger worlds and suns is rising, 

But never, nowhere, can be rest. 

In active deeds life proves unfolding; 
It must be moulded and keep mould- 
Sometimes but seeming rest 'twill gain. 
The eternal stirreth in us all ; 
And into naught we all must fall, 
If e'er in life we shall remain. 


Im Grenzenlosen sich zu finden, 
Wird gern der Einzelne verschwinden, 
Da lost sich aller Ueberdruss; 
Statt heissem Wiinschen, wildem Wol- 

Statt last'gem* Fordern, strengem 

Sich aufzugeben, ist Genuss. 

Weltseele, komm', uns zu durch- 

dringen ! 
Dann mit dem Weltgeist selbst zu 

Wird unsrer Krafte Hochberuf. 
Theilnehmend fiihren gute Geister, 
Gelinde leitend, hochste Meister, 
Zu dem, der Alles schafft und schuf. 

Und umzuschaffen das Geschaffne, 
Damit sich's nicht zum Starren waffne, 
Wirkt ewiges, lebend'ges Thun. 
Und was nicht war, nun will es werden 
Zu reinen Sonnen, farb'gen Erden; 
In keinem Falle darf es ruhn. 

Es soil sich regen, schaffend handeln, 
Erst sich gestalten, dann verwandein ; 
Nur scheinbar steht's Momente still. 
Das Ew'ge regt sich fort in Allen; 
Denn Alles muss in Nichts zerfallen, 
Wenn es im Sein beharren will.] 


No being into naught can fall. 
The eternal liveth in them all; 
In being, therefore, be thou blessed. 
Being is eternal, for fixed measures 
Preserve its ever-living treasures. 
In which the world is nobly dressed. 


Kein Wesen kann zu Nichts zerfallen ! 
Das Ewige regt sich fort in Allen, 
Am Sein erhalte dich begluckt! 
Das Sein ist ewig; denn Gesetze 
Bewahren die lebend'gen Schatze, 
Aus welchen sich das All geschmiickt. 



The Truth of yore has been descried. 
And noble spirits it allied. 
To dear old Truth we must adhere! 
'Tis to the Wise One Truth we owe : 
To Him who did their orbits show 
To earth and to her brother-sphere. 

First thou within thyself shouldst 

For that within 'tis lies the center 
No noble thinker will gainsay. 
No rule there's missing. So rejoice. 
That conscience' independent voice 
Serves duty as its solar ray. 

We on our senses must rely, 
And if pur reason we apply, 
Sensation never error yields; 
With open eyes do all observing, 
And roam with confidence unswerving 
Through this world's rich and won- 
drous fields. 

Temper your joys with moderation. 
With reason keep in consultation. 
When life is beaming with life's glee. 
The past will thus become enduring, 
E'en now the future life-securing; 
The moment gains eternity. 

If thou succeedest, thou wilt feel 
And it will to thy mind appeal, 
True is alone what fertile is. 
Examine universal sway; 
It rules the world in its own way. 
Keep thou with the minorities. 

Das Wahre war schon langst gefun- 

Hat edle Geisterschaft verbunden. 
Das alte Wahre fass es an! 
Verdank' es, Erdensohn, dem Weisen, 
Der ihr die Sonne zu umkreisen 
Und dem Geschwister wies die Bahn. 

Sofort nun wende dich nach innen. 
Das Centrum findest du da drinnen, 
Woran kein Edler zweifeln mag. 
Wirst keine Regel da yermissen; 
Denn das selbststandige Gewissen 
1st Sonne deinem Sittentag. 

Den Sinnen hast du dann zu trauen; 
Kein Falsches lassen sie dich schauen, 
Wenn dein Verstand dich wach erhalt. 
Mit frischem Blick bemerke freudig, 
Und wandle, sicher wie geschmeidig, 
Durch Auen reichbegabter Welt. 

Geniesse massig Fiill' und Segen; 
Vernunft sei iiberall zugegen. 
Wo Leben sich des Lebens freut. 
Dann ist Vergangenheit bestandig, 
Das Kiinftige voraus lebendig, 
Der Augenblick ist Ewigkeit. 

Und war es endlich dir gelungen, 
Und bist du vom Gefiihl durch- 

drungen : 
Was fruchtbar ist, allein ist wahr; 
Du priifst das allgemeine Walten, 
Es wird nach seiner Weise schalten, 
Geselle dich zur kleinsten Schaar. 

Born, as of old, of patient love, 
Whenever may the spirit move. 
Are bard's and thinker's great crea- 
tions ; 
With highest favors they are fraught. 
To feel for noble souls their thought,; 
'Tis the most enviable of vocations.] 

Und wie von Alters her, im Stillen, 
Ein Liebewerk, nach eignem Willen, 
Der Philosoph, der Dichter schuf; 
So wirst du schonste Gunst erzielen: 
Denn edien Seelen vorzufiihlen 
Ist wiinschenswerthester Beruf.] 

Goethe expressed his world-conception in a prose poem on 
nature which was pubhshed as "A Fragment" in the first issues 

Goethe's philosophy. 245 

of the Journal of Erfurt in 1782, a periodical which was not 
printed but written by hand in eleven copies, and circulated in 
the select circles of Weimar. This fragment is a remarkable 
piece of poetic prose characteristic of Goethe the pantheist, and 
reads as follows : 


"Nature ! By her we are surrounded and encompassed — 
unable to step out of her and unable to enter deeper into her. 
Unsolicited and unwarned, she receives us into the circle of her 
dance, and hurries along with us, till we are exhausted and drop 
out of her arms. 

"She creates ever new forms ; what now is, was never before ; 
what was, comes not again — all is new, and yet always the old. 

"We live in her midst, and are strangers to her. She speaks 
with us incessantly, and betrays not her mystery unto us. We 
afifect her constantly, and yet have no power over her. 

"She seems to have contrived everything for individuality, 
but cares nothing for individuals. She builds ever, and ever 
destroys, and her workshop is inaccessible. 

"She lives in her children alone; and the mother, where is 
she? She is the only artist: from the simplest subject to the 
greatest contrasts; without apparent effort to the greatest per- 
fection, to the precisest exactness — always covered with some- 
thing gentle. Every one of her works has a being of its own, 
every one of her phenomena has the most isolated idea, and yet 
they all make one. 

"She acts a play on the stage: whether she sees it herself 
we know not, and yet she plays it for us who stand in the corner. 

"There is an eternal living, becoming, and moving in her, 
and yet she proceeds no farther. She transforms herself for- 
ever, and there is no moment when she stands still. Of remain- 
ing in a spot she does not think, and attaches her curse to stand- 
ing still. She is firm ; her step is measured, her exceptions rare, 
her laws unalterable. 

"She has thought, and is constantly meditating; not as a 

" Translated by the author. 

246 GOETHE. 

man, but as nature. She has an all-embracing mind of her own, 
and no one can penetrate it. 

"All men are in her, and she is in all. With all she carries 
on a friendly game, and rejoices the more they win from her. 
She plays it with many so secretly, that she plays it to the end 
ei^e they know it. 

"The most unnatural is also nature; even the stupidest Phil- 
istinism hath something of her genius. Who sees her not every- 
where, sees her nowhere aright. 

"She loves herself and clings ever, with eyes and hearts 
without number, to herself. She has divided herself into parts 
in order to enjoy herself. Ever she lets new enjoyers grow, 
insatiable to impart herself. 

"She delights in illusion. Whoever destroys this in himself 
and others, him she punishes as the strictest tyrant. Whoever 
trustfully follows her, him she presses like a child to her heart. 

"Her children are without number. To no one is she alto- 
gether niggardly, but she has favorites upon whom she squanders 
much, and to whom she sacrifices much. To greatness she has 
pledged her protection. 

"She flings forth her creatures out of nothing, and tells 
them not whence they come, nor whither they are going. Let 
them only run; she knows the way. 

"She has few springs, but those are never worn out, always 
active, always manifold. 

"Her play is ever new, because she ever creates new spec- 
tators. Life is her finest invention, and death is her artifice to 
get more life. 

"She veils man in darkness, and spurs him continually to the 
light. She makes him dependent on the earth, dull and heavy, 
and keeps rousing him afresh. 

"She gives wants, because she loves motion. The wonder is 
that she accomplishes all this motion with so little. Every want 
is a benefit; quickly satisfied, quickly growing again. If she 
gives one more, it is a new source of pleasure; but she soon 
comes into equilibrium. 

"She sets out every moment for the longest race, and is every 
moment at the goal. 


"She is vanity itself, but not for us, to whom she has made 
herself the greatest weight. 

"She lets every child tinker with her, every fool pass judg- 
ment on her, thousands stumble over her and see nothing; and 
she has her joy in all, and she finds in all her account. 

"Man obeys her laws, even when he strives against them; 
he works with her even when he would work against her. 

"She makes of all she gives a blessing, for she first makes 
it indispensable. She lags, that we may long for her; she has- 
tens, that we may not grow weary of her. 

"She has no speech or language ; but she creates tongues and 
hearts through which she feels and speaks. 

"Her crown is love. Only through it can man ajpproach her. 
She creates gaps between all things, and is always ready to 
engulf all. She has isolated all, to draw all together. By a 
few draughts from the cup of love she makes up for a life full of 

"She is all. She rewards herself and punishes herself, de- 
lights and torments herself. She is rude and gentle, lovely and 
terrible, powerless and almighty. 

"All is always nozu in her. Past and future knows she not. 
The present is her eternity. 

"She is kindly. I praise her with all her works. She is 
wise and quiet. One can tear no explanation from her, extort 
from her no gift, which she gives not of her own free will. She 
is cunning, but for a good end, and it is best not to observe her 

"She is whole, and yet ever uncompleted. As she plies it, 
she can always ply it. 

"To every one she appears in a form of her own. She hides 
herself in a thousand names and terms, and is always the same. 

"She has placed me here, she will lead me away. I trust my- 
self to her. She may do as she likes with me. She will not hate 
her work. It is not I who spake of her. No, both the true as 
well as the false, she has spoken it all. All the guilt is hers, and 

hers all the merit." 

* * * 

Many years after this rhapsody was written, the Chancellor 

248 GOETHE. 

of Saxe-Weimar, Herr von Miiller, submitted the manuscript 
to Goethe, who had forgotten all about it. In the meantime he 
had modified his views, or rather emphasized another point in 
his world-conception, and so he looked upon his former thought 
as unsatisfactory. It was to him a comparative that ought to be 
superseded by a superlative. Yet it is understood that the new 
superlative view surpasses the comparative one without repu- 
diating it. 

In 1782 Goethe as a pantheist believed in nature and in the 
divinity of nature in which we live and move and have our 
being, but in later years he says concerning his views at this time : 
"Nature does not move forward, she remains the same. Her 
laws are unchangeable. Nature places me within life; she will 
lead me out of it, and I confide in her." Without objecting to 
his former belief, he has now learned to appreciate progress in 
nature. He sees that by "polarity" and by "gradation" nature 
produces a tendency siirsum, involving a constant metamor- 
phosis. His investigations in natural science taught him that 
man is kin to the animal, that he has risen from the animal king- 
dom, and that consequently he is capable of rising higher and 
higher. The thoughts of man's lowly origin and his kinship 
to the animal world are not depressing to him, but -on the con- 
trary elevating. He sees in them the promise of man's unlimited 
possibilities, but this idea is not expressed in his fragment on 
"Nature." So he adds to it an "Elucidation to the Aphoristic 
Essay on Nature," under the date of May 24, 1828, addressed 
to Chancellor von Muller as follows : 

"This essay was sent to me a short time ago from among the 
papers of the late revered Duchess Anna Amalia; it is written 
by a familiar hand, of which I was accustomed to avail myself 
in my affairs, in the year 1780 or thereabouts. 

"I do not exactly remember having written these reflections, 
but they agree very well with the ideas which had at that time 
become developed in my mind. I might term the degree of in- 
sight which I then possessed, a comparative one, which was 
trying to express its tendency toward a superlative not yet at- 

"There is an obvious inclination to a sort of pantheism, to the 

goethe's philosophy. 249 

conception of an unfathomable, unconditioned, humorously self- 
contradictory being underlying the phenomena of nature; and 
it may pass as a jest with a bitter truth in it. 

"What it lacks to make it complete, however, is the con- 
sideration of the two great driving wheels of nature: the ideas 
of polarity and of gradation, the first pertaining to matter in 
so far as we conceive it as material, the second on the other 
hand pertaining to spirit in so far as we conceive it as spiritual ; 
the one exists in continuous attraction and repulsion, the other 
in constantly aspiring to a higher stage. But because matter 
can not exist efficiently without spirit nor spirit without matter, 
matter is also capable of advancement just as spirit is not pre- 
vented from attracting and repelling; as only those can under- 
stand who have analyzed sufficiently to be able to make combi- 
nations, or have made enough combinations to be able to analyze 

"In those years when the above mentioned essay was probably 
written I was chiefly occupied with comparative anatomy, and 
in 1784 took great pains to arouse sympathy with my conviction 
that man's possession of an intermaxillary bone was not to be 
disputed. Even very good thinkers would not investigate the 
truth of the assertion and the best observers denied its im- 
portance, and as in so many other matters I had secretly to pur- 
sue my own way. 

"I studied with unremitting effort the versatility of nature 
in the vegetable kingdom, and was fortunate enough when in 
Sicily in 1787 to become acquainted with the metamorphosis 
of plants objectively as well as in abstract conception. The 
metamorphosis of the animal kingdom bordered on that of plants, 
and in 1790 in Venice I discovered the origin of the skull from 
a vertebra. I now pursued more eagerly the construction of the 
type, dictated the formula to Max Jacobi at Jena in 1795, and 
soon had the pleasure of seeing my work taken up by German 

"If we consider the high achievements by which all the phe- 
nomena of nature have been gradually linked together in the 
human mind ; and then, once more, thoughtfully peruse the above 
essay from which we started, we shall, not without a smile, com- 



pare that comparative, as I called it, ^yith the superlative which 
we have now reached, and rejoice in the progress of fifty years." 
The famous scientist Haller, who lived in the end of the 
eighteenth century (1708-1777), was a forerunner of Lamarck, 
Treviranus, Karl E. von Baer, and others, who were the first 


to discover and state that evolution is the universal law of life 
and growth. In spite of his sound judgment and stupendous 
knowledge in natural philosophy, Haller had not yet freed 
himself from the metaphysical skepticism of his time. He be- 
lieved, as did most of his contemporaries, in the fundamental 



unknowableness of natural phenomena. A verse of his, which 
expressed this at that time popular opinion, was well known and 
frequently quoted. It is as follows : 

Nature's "within" from mortal mind 

Must ever lie concealed. 
Thrice blest e'en he to whom she has 

Her outer shell revealed. 

Goethe could not be reconciled to this view, which splits 
nature in twain and places us, including our inquiring mind, out- 
side of nature as if we were locked out from her secrets for 
ever. He replied to Haller's verses in a short poem, which is 
not so well known as it deserves to be : 

"Nature's xvithin from mortal mind" 

Philistine, sayest thou, 

"Must ever lie concealed ?" 

To me, my friend, and to my kind 

Repeat this not. We trow 

Where'er we are that we 

Within must always be. 

"Thrice blest e'en he to whom she has 

Her outer shell revealed" 1 

This saying sixty years I heard 

Repeated o'er and o'er, 

And in my soul I cursed the word, 

Though secretly I swore. 

Some thousand thousand times or 

Unto myself I witness bore: ^ 
"Gladly gives Nature all her store, 
She knows not kernel, knows not 

For she is all in one. But thou, 
Examine thou thine own self well 
If thou art kernel or art shell." 

["In's Inncre der Nalur" — 
O du Philister!— 
"Dringt kein crschaffncr Geist?" 
Midi und Geschwister 
Mogt' ihr an solches Wort 
Nur nicht erinnern ; 
Wir denken: Ort fiir Ort 
Sind wir im Innern. 

"GlUckselig! wem sie nur 

Die dussere Schale weist!" 

Das hor' ich sechzig Jahre ' wieder- 

Ich fluche drauf, aber verstohlen. 
Sage mir tausend-tausendmale : 
AUes giebt sie reichlich und gern, 
Natur hat weder Kern 
Noch Schale, 
Alles ist sie mit einera Male. 

Dich priife du nur allermeist, 
Ob du Kern oder Schale seist!] 

It is well known that Goethe was an evolutionist, or as he 
would have called himself, a transformationist. He believed m 
the plasticity of life and he became firmly convinced that all plants 

252 GOETHE. 

are mere variations of one general type, that they are all kin and 
their variety of form can be explained by metamorphosis or 
transformation. His enthusiasm for this idea found expression 
in lines addressed to his wife Christiana under the title "The 
Metamorphosis of Plants." Unfortunately the poem is written 
in the ponderous meter of elegiac distichs. It reads : 


Thou art confused, my beloved, at seeing the thousandfold medley. 

Shown in this flowery mass, over the garden dispersed ; 
Many a name, love, thou hearest assigned ; one after another 

Falls on thy listening ear with a barbarian sound. 
None of these forms are alike but they all bear a certain resemblance. 

And a mysterious law is by their chorus revealed. ^ 
Yea, 'tis a sacred enigma, my loveliest friend; could I only 

Happily teach thee the word which will the mystery solve ! 
Closely observe how the plant is developing little by little, 

How it will grow by degrees changing to blossom and fruit ! 
First from the seed it unravels itself, as soon as the silent, 

Motherly womb of the earth kindly allows its escape, 
And to the charms of the light, which is holy and ever in motion, 

Trusteth its delicate leaves, feebly beginning to shoot. 
Simple the force is that slumbers in seeds; 'tis a germ of the future, 

-Peacefully locked in itself, 'neath the integument hid. 
Leaflet, and rootlet, and bud, still void of all color, and shapeless. 

Such as the kernel, while dry, holdeth in motionless life. 
Upward then striveth the plant and it swelleth with delicate moisture, 

Forth from the night where it dwelt, straightway ascending to light. 
Simple remaineth its shape, when the green first makes it appearance ; 

And 'tis a token like this, points out the child 'mid the plants. 
Soon though an off-shoot, succeeding it, rises on high, and repeateth, 

Piling up node upon node, ever the primitive form; 
Yet not always alike : for the following leaf, as thou seest, 

Ever produceth itself, fashioned in manifold ways. 
Longer and more indented, in points and in parts more divided, — 

Forms which were latent till now, sleeping in organs below. 
So it attaineth at length its predestined and noble perfection. 

Which in these numerous forms, fills thee with wondering awe. 
Ribbed it appears here and toothed, on its surface exuberant swelling, 

Free and unending the shoot seemeth in fulness to be; 

" First printed in Schiller's Musen-Almanach for 1799 but probably writ- 
ten nine years before that date, simultaneously with Goethe's treatise entitled 
"An Essay to Explain the Metamorphosis of Plants" (1790). The ideas 
therein presented which are an anticipation of the theory of evolution did not 
make a favorable impression and elicited only vigorous protest on the part of 
specialists. Goethe wrote this poem in order to prepare the public for his 

Goethe's philosophy. 253 

Nature, however, restraineth with powerful hand the formation. 

And she perfecteth the plant, gently completing its growth, 
Yielding the juices with lesser abundance, contracting the vessels, 

So that the figure ere long nobler effects will disclose. 
See how the growth of the foliage here on the edge is retarded, 

While there the rib of the leaf fuller becometh in form. 
Leafless, however, and quick the tenderer stem then upspringeth. 

And a miraculous sight will the observer enchant. 
Ranged in a circle in numbers that now are but small, and now countless. 

Gather these delicate leaves close by the side of their like. 
Here at the axis embraces them all the well sheltering calyx 

Which the corolla presents, brilliant in hue and in form. 
Nature thus decks them with bloom in a noble and radiant glory, 

Showing, in order arranged, branches with leaves and with buds. 
Wonderment fresh dost thou feel, as soon as the stem rears the flower 

Over the scaffolding frail fringed with its alternate leaves. 
Flowers, however, are only the prophets of further creation. 

Truly the leaf with its hues feeleth the touch of a god. 
It on a sudden contracteth itself ; the tenderest figures 

Stand as yet twofold, divided, but soon will they haste to unite. 
Lovingly then the fair couples are joined in a bridal alliance. 

Gathered in countless array, there where the altar is raised. 
Hymen is hovering o'er them, and scents of an odor delicious 

Sweetly their fragrance exhale for the delight of the world. 
Presently numberless germs on the several branches are swelling, 

Sweetly concealed in the womb, where is made perfect the fruit. 
Here, we see. Nature is closing the ring of her forces eternal; 

And it attacheth a new link to the one gone before. 
So that the chain be prolonged forever through all generations, 

And the whole may have life, e'en as enjoyed by each part. 
Now, my beloved one, turn thou thy gaze on the many-hued thousands 

Which can confuse thee no more ; for they will gladden thy mind. 
Every plant unto thee proclaimeth the law everlasting. 

Every floweret speaks louder and louder to thee ; 
But if thou here canst decipher the sacred design of the goddess. 

Everywhere will it be seen, e'en though the features are changed. 
Caterpillars are sluggish, and busily butterflies flutter,— 

Man however may change even the figure decreed. 
Oh, then, bethink thee, as well, how out of the germ of acquaintance, 

Gradually habits arose. Seeking each other we met, 
Verily friendship and love began to flame in our bosoms, 

Finally Amor procured wondrously blossom and fruit! 
Think of the manifold touches which Nature hath lent to our feelings. 

Silently giving them birth, all of them different in form ! 
Yea and rejoice thou to-day in the present! For love that is holy 

Seeketh the noblest of fruits,— which is a concord of thought, ^ 
When our opinions agree,— thus we both will in rapt contemplation. 
Lovingly blending in one, find a more excellent world. 

After Bowring's translation. 

254 GOETHE. 


bich verwirret, Geliebte, die tausendfaltige Mischung 

Dieses Blumengewiihls iiber dem Garten umher; 
Viele Namen horest du an, und immer verdranget 

Mit barbarischem Klang einer den andern im Ohr. 
Alle Gestalten sind ahnlich, und keine gleichet der andern ; 

Und so deutet das Chor auf ein geheimes Gesetz, 
Auf ein heiliges Rathsel. O, konnt' ich dir, liebliche Freundin, 

Ueberliefern sogleich gliicklich das losende Wort! 
Werdend betrachte sie nun, wie nach und nach sich die Pflanze, 

Stufenweise gefiihrt, bildet zu Bliithen und Frucht. 
Aus dem Samen entwickelt sie sich, sobald ihn der Erde. 

Stille befruchtender Schooss hold in das Leben entlasst, 
Und dem Reize des Lichts, des heiligen, ewig bewegten, 

Gleich den zartesten Bau keimender Blatter empfiehlt. 
Einfach schlief in dem Samen die Kraft; ein beginnendes Vorbild 

Lag verschlossen in sich, unter die Hiille gebeugt, 
Blatt und Wurzel und Keim, nur halb geformet und farblos ; 

Trocken erhalt so der Kern ruhiges Leben bewahrt. 
Quillet strebend empor, sich milder Feuchte vertrauend, 

Und erhebt sich sogleich aus der umgebenden Nacht. 
Aber einfach bleibt die Gestalt der ersten Erscheinung; 

Und so bezeichnet sich auch unter den Pflanzen das Kind. 
Gleich darauf ein folgender Trieb, sich erhebend, erneuet, 

Knoten auf Knoten gethiirmt, immer das erste Gebild. 
Zwar nicht immer das gleiche; denn mannichfaltig erzeugt sich, 

Ausgebildet, du siehst's, immer das folgende Blatt, 
Ausgedehnter, gekerbter, getrennter in Spitzen und Theile, 

Die verwachsen vorher ruhten im untern Organ. 
Und so erreicht es zuerst- die hochst bestimmte Vollendung, 

Die bei manchem Geschlecht dich zum Erstaunen bewegt. 
Viel gerippt und gezackt, auf mastig strotzender Flache, 

Scheinet die Fiille des Triebs frei und unendlich zu sein, 
•Doch hier halt die Natur mit machtigen Handen die Bildung 

An, und lenket sie sanft in das Vollkommnere hin. 
Massiger leitet sie nun den Saft, verengt die Gefasse, 

Und gleich zeigt die Gestalt zartere Wirkungen an. 
Stille zieht sich der Trieb der strebenden Rander zuriicke, 

Und die Rippe des Stiels bildet sich volliger aus. 
Blattlos aber und schnell erhebt sich der zartere Stengel, 
. Und ein Wundergebild zieht den Betrachtenden an. 
Rings im Kreise stellet sich nun, gezahlet und ohne 
• Zahl,, das kleinere Blatt neben dem ahnlichen hin. 
Urn die Aehse gedrangt entscheidet der bergende Kelch sich, 

Der zur hochsten Gestalt farbige Kronen entlasst. 
Also prangt die Natur in hoher voller Erscheinung, 

Und sie zeiget, gereiht, Glieder an Glieder gestuft. 
Immer staunst du auf's Neue, sobald sich am Stengel die Blume 

Goethe's philosophy. 255 

Ueber dem schlanken Geriist wechselnder Blatter bewegt. 
Aber die Herrlichkeit wird des neuen Schaffens Verkundung; 

Ja, das farbigc Blatt fiihlet die gottliche Hand, 
Und zusammen zieht es sich schnell ; die zartesten Formen, 

Zwiefach streben sie vor, sich zu vereinen bestimmt. 
Traulich stehen sie mm, die holden Paare, beisammen, 

Zahlreich ordnen sie sich um den geweihten Altar. 
Hymen schwebet herbei, und herrliche Diifte, gewaltig, 

Stromen siissen Gertich, Alles belebend umher. 
Nun vereinzelt schwellen sogleich unziihlige Keime, 

Hold in den Mutterschooss schwellender Fruchte gehiillt. 
Und hier schliesst die Natur den Ring der ewigen Kriifte; 

Doch ein neuer sogleich fasset den vorigen an, 
Dass die Kette sich fort durch alle Zeiten verlange, 

Und das Ganze belebt, so wie das Einzelne, sei. 
Wende nun, o Geliebte, den Blick zum bunten Gewimmel, 

Das verwirrend nicht mehr sich vor dem Geiste bewegt. 
Jede Pflanze verkiindet dir nun die ew'gen Gesetze, 

Jede Blume, sie spricht lauter und lauter niit dir. 
Aber entzifferst du hier der Gottin heilige Leltern, 

Ueberall siehst du sie dann, auch in verjindertem Zug. 
Kriechend zaudre die Raupe, der Schmetterling eile geschiiftig, 

Bildsam jindre der Mensch selbst die bestimmte Gestalt ! 
O, gedenke denn auch, wie aus dem Keim der Bekanntschaft 

Nach und nach in uns holde Gewohnheit entspross, 
Freundschaft sich mit Macht in unserm Innern enthiillte. 

Und wie Amor zuletzt Bliithen und Fruchte gezeugt. 
Denke, wie mannichfach bald die, bald jene Gestalten, 

Still entfaltend, Natur unsern Gefiihlen geliehn ! 
Freue dich auch des heutigen Tags ! Die heilige Liebe 

Strebt zu der hochsten Frucht gleicher Gesinnungen auf, 
Gleicher Ansicht der Dinge, damit in harmonischem Anschaun 

Sich verbinde das Paar, finde die hohere Welt.] 

Goethe laid more stress on the thoughts contained in this poem 
than his contemporaries, and he was displeased that his friends 
did not see the same deep meaning in it which he had tried to 
express. He was not less unfortunate with another argument 
in favor of man's kinship to the animal world which aroused a 
storm of indignation and of controversy, but the truth of which 
has since been recognized. In Goethe's time naturalists main- 
tained that the essential difference between human and animal 
skeletons was the absence of the intennaxillary bone in the hu- 
man jaw. Goethe succeeded in pointing out the existence of this 
bone, by showing that it had coalesced so thoroughly as to conceal 

256 GOETHE. 

its separate character. The existence of this intermaxillary bone 
remained a guarantee to Goethe of the truth of the theory of 
evolution as well as of the interrelation of all life on earth, and 
this opened to him the vista of greater possibilities in man's future. 

Goethe gave a poetic expression to these thoughts in "The 
Metamorphosis of Animals," presumably written in 1806, in 
which, besides teaching the theory later on propounded by La- 
marck that habits determine the forms of life, he emphasizes 
mainly the ethical aspect of the plasticity of nature and points 
out that perfection can be attained only by imitation. 

The "Metamorphosis of Animals" (written in hexameters, 
not in distichs) in spite of its importance has never as yet been 
translated. We offer the following version: 


Durst ye ascend to the peak, to the highest of heights on the summit? 
Well, then, I proffer my hand, and here you behold from this outlook 
O'er the wide province of nature a view. Oh see, how the goddess 
Spendeth so richly her gifts ! Yet worries she not as do mortal 
Mothers who, filled with anxiety, care for the fate of their children. 
'Twould not behoove her. She guards the young life by laws that are twofold. 
This is her highest degree : She limits the scope of each creature. 
Gives it' a limited want yet supplies it with means without limit, 
Easily found and supplied. In motherly kindness she favors 
Those of her children who earn her affection by daring endeavor. 
Untrained they swarm into life, each obeying its own inclination. 

Truly's each creature itself its own purpose, for nature creates it 

Perfect ; and it in its turn begets progeny that will be perfect. 

Organs and members are shaped according to laws everlasting, 

Even the oddest formation its prototype latent preserveth. 

Thus is each month well adapted to seize the right food and to swallow 

That which is fit for its stomach,— the one may be tender and toothless. 

While there are others with powerful jaws; but one organ will always 

Cooperate with the others for a wholesome and proper nutrition. 

Also the feet to the needs of the body are wisely adjusted, 

Some of them long, while others are shprt, yet in perfect proportion. 

Thus the kind mother assureth to each of her several children 

Health in good store ; and the organized limbs of each animate being 

Always will work for the whole, and ne'er counteract one another. 

Therefore the shape of a creature determines its life and its habits, 

While vice versa the habits of life will react on the organs 

Potently. Any formation possesses a definite order 

Which yet is subject to change through external effects and conditions. 


But in the innermost self of the noblest of nature's creations 
Lieth their power, confined to a holy mysterious circle. 
And these limits removeth no god; they are honored by nature, 
For limitation alone mal<eth possible highest perfection. 

Yet in the innermost self a spirit titanic is also 

Stirring, which fain would arbitrarily break through the circle, — 

Bold innovation begetting new forms! But in vain it aspireth. 

See how it swelleth one part, it endoweth with power 

One for all others, and lo the result ! Those others must suffer. 

Thus a onesided preponderance taketh away the proportion, — 

Yea, it destroyeth all beauty of form and harmonious motion. 

Seest thou then that a creature has preference gained over others, 

Look for the shortage at once and seek with confiding inquiry. 

Then thou at once wilt discover the key for the varied formations; 

As, for example, no animal beareth a horn on its forehead 

If in its jaw it possesseth its teeth in perfect completion; 

Wherefore our mother eternal e'en if she endeavored to do so. 

Could not in all her creation engender such forms as horned lions. 

There's not enough in amount for constructing the horns On the forehead, 

And in the mouth the formation of teeth that are perfect in number. 

'Tis a most beautiful thought to have power and self-limitation. 

Liberty and moderation, free motion and law, and all plastic. 

Preference offset by want! O rejoice that the Muses have taught thee 

Gently for harmony's sake to yield to a wholesome compulsion, 

For there's no ethical thinker who finds aspirations sublimer. 

Truly the man of great deeds, the artist, the poet, the ruler. 

He who deserves so to be, thus only his worth can acquire. 

Highest of creatures, rejoice ! for thou, thou alone, comprehendest 

Nature's sublimest idea ; and what at her best she created 

Thinkest thou over again. Here take thou thy stand and look backward, 

Prove all things and compare, and learn from the Muse what she teaches, 

Better than raving by far is assured and approved comprehension. 


Wagt ihr, also bereitet, die letzte Stufe zu steigen 
Dieses Gipfels, so reicht mir die Hand und offnet den freien 
Blick in's weite Feld der Natur. Sie spendet die reichen 
Lebensgaben umher, die Gottin; aber empfindet 
Keine Sorge wie sterbliche Fraun um ihrer Gebornen 
Sichere Nahrung; ihr ziemet es nicht; denn zwiefach bestimmte 
Sie das hochste Gesetz, beschrankte jegliches Leben, 
Gab ihm gemessnes Bediirfniss, und ungemessene Gaben, 
Leicht zu finden, streute sie aus, und ruhig begiinstigt 
Sie das muntre Bemiihn der vielfach bediirftigen Kinder; 
Unerzogen schwarmen sie fort nach ihrer Bestimmung. 

258 GOETHE. 

Zweck sein selbst ist jegliches Thier, vollkommen entspringt es 
Aus dem Schooss der Natur und zeugt voUkommene Kinder ; 
AUe Glieder bilden sich aus nach ew'gen Gesetzen, 
Und die seltenste Form bewahrt im Geheimen das Urbild. 
So ist jeglicher Mund geschickt die Speise zu fassen, 
Welche dem Korper gebiihrt, es sei nun schwachlich und zahnlos 
Oder machtig der Kiefer gezahnt, in jeglichem Falle 
Fordert ein schicklich Organ den iibrigen Gliedern die Nahrung. 
Auch bewegt sich jeglicher Fuss, der lange, der kurze, 
Ganz harmonisch zum Sinne des Thiers und seinem Bediirfniss. 
So ist jedem der Kinder die voile, reine Gesundheit 
Von der Mutter bestimmt; denn alle lebendigen Glieder 
Widersprechen sich nie und wirken alle zum Leben. 
Also bestimmt die Gestalt die Lebensweise des Thieres, 
Und die Weise zu leben, sie wirkt auf alle Gestalten 
Machtig zuriick. So zeiget sich fest die geordnete Bildung, 
Welche zum Wechsel sich neigt durch ausserlich wirkende Wesen. 

Doch im Innern befindet die Kraft der edlern Geschopfe 
Sich im heiligen Kreise lebendiger Bildung beschlossen. 
Diese Grenzen erweitert kein Gott, es ehrt die Natur sie : 
Denn nur also beschrankt war je das VoUkommene moglich. 

Doch im Innern sclieint ein Geist gewaltig zu ringen, 
Wie er durchbrache den Kreis, Willkiir zu schaffeh den Formen 
Wie dem Wollen; doch was er beginnt, beginnt er vergebens. 
Denn zwar drangt er sich vor zu diesen Gliedern, zu jenen, 
Stattet machtig sie aus, jedoch schon darben dagegen 
Andere Glieder; die Last des Uebergewichtes vernichtet 
Alle Schone der Form und alle reine Bewegung. 
Siehst du also dem einen Geschopf besonderen Vorzug 
Irgend gegonnt, so frage nur gleich, wo leidet es etwa 
Mangel anderswo, und suche mit forschendem Geiste! 
Finden wirst du sogleich zu aller Bildung den Schliissel. 
Denn so hat kein Thier, dem sammtliche Zahne den obern 
Kiefer umzaunen, ein Horn auf seiner Stirne getragen, 
Und daher ist den Lowen gehornt der ewigen Mutter 
Ganz unmoglich zu bilden, und bote sie alle Gewalt auf; 
Denn sie hat nicht Masse genug, die Reihen der Zahne 
Vollig zu pflanzen und auch Geweih und Horner zu treiben. 

Dieser schone Begriff von Macht und Schranken, von Willkiir 
Und Gesetz, von Freiheit und Maass, von beweglicher Ordnung, 
Vorzug und Mangel, erfreue dich hoch! die heilige Muse 
Bringt harmonisch ihn dir, mit sanftem Zwange belehrend. 
Keinen hohern Begriff erringt der sittliche Denker, 
Keinen der thiitige Mann, der dichtende Kiinstler; der Herrscher, 
Der verdient es zu sein, erfreut nur durch ihn sich der Krone. 
Freue dich, hochstes Geschopf der Natur, du fiihlest dich fahig 



Ihr den schonsten Gedanken, zu dem sie schaffend sich aufschwang, 
Nachzudenken. Hier stehe nun still und wende die Blicke 
Ruckwarts, priife, vergleiche und nimm vom Munde der Muse, 
Dass du schauest, nicht schwiirmst, die liebliche, voile Gewissheit.] 

The two poems on the metamorphosis of plants and animals 
appear in the usual editions of Goethe's poetry framed in by three 
little poems entitled "Parabasis," "Epirrhema," and "Antepir- 
rhema," which strange-sounding titles are chosen in imitation of 
a custom of the chorus of the Greek stage, whose leader, the so- 
called Corypheus, addressed the public in a general adhortation 
not necessarily connected with the plot of the drama. The first 
address "Parabasis" is followed by the "Epirrhema," a kind of 
epilogue, and the "Antepirrhema" a counter-epilogue. Like 
several other philosophical poems of Goethe here quoted they are 
now translated for the first time. 


Joyous, as it me behooveth, 
Did for years my soul aspire 
To experience and inquire 
How creative nature moveth. 

'Tis the eternal one and all 
Which appears as manifold, 
Small things great are, great things 

Everything has its own mould. 

Same remaining in mutations, 
Near and far, and far and near, 
Forming thus by transformations- 
How amazing I am here ! 


Take in nature-meditation. 
Each and all in contemplation, 
Naught is inside, naught is out. 
For the inside is without. 
Thus shall comprehended be 
Holy open mystery. 

Truth of semblance pleasure giveth, 
So doth serious play. 
Merely one, there's naught that liveth 
'Tis a manifold alway. 


Freudig war vor vielen Jahren 
Eifrig so der Geist bestrebt, 
Zu erforschen, zu erfahren, 
Wie Natur im Schaffen lebt. 

Und es ist das ewig Eine, 
Das sich vielfach offenbart; 
Klein das Grosse, gross das Kleine, 
AUes nach der eig'nen Art. 

Immer wechselnd, fest sich haltend, 
Nah und fern, und fern und nah; 
So gestaltend, umgestaltend— 
Zum Erstaunen bin ich da.] 


Miisset im Naturbetrachten 
Immer Eins wie Alles achten; 
Nichts ist drinnen, nichts ist draussen ; 
Denn was innen, das ist aussen. 
So ergreifet ohne Saumniss 
Heilig offentlich Geheimniss. 

Freuet euch des wahren Scheins, 
Euch des ernsten Spieles; 
Kein Lebendiges ist ein Eins, 
Immer ist's ein Vieles.] 




Behold how Nature all achieves, 
How masterly her work she weaves. 
One treadle holds thousands of threads 

Her shuttles hither and thither are 

The fibers in both directions strung, 
And thousand transactions at once 

are perfected. 

This she has not by chance combined. 

But from eternity designed. 

So the eternal master may 

His web and woof with surety lay. 


So schauet mit bescheidnem Blick 
Der ewigen Weberin Meisterstiick, 
Wie Ein Tritt tausend Faden regt, i/ 

Die Schifflein hintiber, heriiber schie- ,. 

Die Faden sich begegnend fliessen, 
Ein Schlag tausend Verbindungen 

schlagt ! 

Das hat sie nicht zusammengebettelt ; 
Sie hat's von Ewigkeit angezettelt, 
Damit der ewige Meistermann , 
Getrost den Einsclilag werfen kann.] 


BY a classic we understand anything in art and literature that 
has become accepted as a model of perfection, or at least 
that complies with and conforms to the rules of the recognized 
standard. In contrast to the 

classical stand all those, be they 
artists or authors, who repu- 
diate rule, or standard, or au- 
thority and proclaim the liberty 
of genius. These opponents of 
classical taste go under differ- 
ent names. They were prom- 
inent before as well as after the 
appearance of Goethe's most 
classical literature, and it seems 
as if epochs of classicism were 
constantly alternating with anti- 
classical tendencies. 

The poets of the time of 
Goethe's youth reveled in the 
thought that genius should be 
untrammeled by conventionali- 
ties, traditions or considera- 
tions of any kind. No stand- 
ards, not even those of com 
mon morality, must be tole- 
rated, while full play should be given to sentiment, to a most 
vigorous self-realization, to an unimpeded actualization . of an 
exuberant joy of life, of Lebenslust and of passion, which was 

/J r/u,U^M..t^U r^cL 





After a crayon drawing from life by Burg. Original in possession 

of Herder's grandson, Councilor Stichling of Weimar. 



justified by the plea that passion represented the promptings of 
nature. Nature was the ideal of this period, and "Back to na- 
ture ' was the slogan, whose note had first been sounded by Tean 
Jacques Rousseau. 

The leading spirits of this epoch, viz., the time preceding the 
efflorescence of classical literature in Germany, named this move- 
ment the period of genius, and one of the most prominent among 

After an engraving by Ludwig 
Grimm, 1816. 



After a drawing by Goethe, 177-S. 

them, Friedrich Maximilian Klinger, characterized its aspirations 
in a drama which in its days was much admired, but is now 
generally known only for its title, Sturm und Drang, i. e., "Storm 
and Stress," a title which afterwards furnished the name h) 
which this period of German literature became known. Klinger 
was born February 17, 1752; he came in contact with Goethe at 
Weimar in 1776. He served first in the Austrian and then in 
the Russian army, rising in the latter to the rank of lieutenant- 

* Friedrich MuUer, born January 13, 1749 at Kreuznach, became a convert 
to Roman Catholicism and died at Rome April 23, 1825. He combined with his 
poetic talent other artistic gifts, and is generally known as "Painter Miiller" 
(Maler Miiller) to distinguish him from the many other Mtillers. 



general; while in Russia he was knighted. He died February 
25, 1831, at St. Petersburg. 

After a drawing by Jagemann. 

The main poets of the classical period, Goethe, Schiller, 
Herder and even Lessing, took an active part in this movement 


of Storm and Stress, or as it was then thought to be, of un- 
trammeled genius. In 1767 Herder wrote "The Fragments,"^ 
from which the beginning of the epoch is dated, Goethe wrote 
"Goetz" and "Werther," and Schiller, "The Robbers." Even the 
sober Lessing was not a little under its influence for soriie time, 
but while Klinger and Maler Miiller never outgrew the crudities 


Crayon by Johann Hieronymus Lips, 1791, in the Freie deutsche 

Hochstift at Frankfort. 

of this naturalism all the others here mentioned, after they had 
developed to the fulness of their manhood, sobered down to a 
recognition of the need, or perhaps the helpfulness and mdis- 
pensableness, of rules, whereupon they adopted the standards of 
former classical periods, especially those established in Greek 
^Pragmente iiber die neuere deutsche Litteratur. 



antiquity. Through the observance of rule they succeeded in 
rising above nature and building there with nature's own ma- 
terials a realm of a higher and purer nobility, the realm of art. 

Painted by Hoheneck. 

The triumph of these greater men ended the period of storm 
and stress and rendered impossible a further recognition of 
the untamed geniuses. The epoch of the men of nature, or raw 



genius, of the spirit of rebellion, ends with the appearance of 
Schiller's "Don Carlos" in 1787, and posterity judges of this 
movement merely as a time of preparation for genuine art and 
the higher classical literature which developed out of it. It was 

Painted by Joseph Stieler. 

the age of the immaturity of genius, and so it is well characterized 
as a period of storm and stress. 

Goethe and Schiller as well as the other classical writers. 

268 GOETHE. 

among whom Herder, Wieland and Lessing deserve special men- 
tion, did their best work when they allowed their poetical effu- 
sions to be guided by rule. To be sure we find nature in their 
works, yet its impulsive impetuosity is moderated by the dignity 
of art. 

Both the young Goethe and the young Schiller were for some 
time in search of an expression for the highest and best, and in 
their younger years passed through a period of wildest irregu- 
larities which, however, they gradually outgrew without losing 
the genius and vigor of their early aspirations. In his best years 
Goethe was apt to antagonize those who would take nature as 
the only guide, and for a long time he was prejudiced against 
Schiller because he disliked his drama "The Robbers." In his 
later years, however, Goethe broadened and without losing his 
preference for the classical, he saw more and more the significant 
part which these wild promptings play in the development of 
man. In the history of literature the pendulum naturally swings 
back from classic regularity to a recognition of sentiment, and 
in his old age Goethe may at the same time have felt that nature, 
even in her irregularities, is dominated by a law which will grad- 
ually assert itself, even in those who scorn the rule of art. 

Under these impressions Goethe wrote a sonnet for which the 
preceding remarks will serve as a commentary. In this he 
returns to a recognition of the rights of nature, and concedes 
that nature with her immediate promptings will help to warm 
our hearts, but after all, he remains faithful to the classical ideal. 
The sonnet reads : 

Nature and art each other seem to flee, 

Yet unexpectedly again they meet. 

All my objections now are obsolete 
For both apparently with me agree. 
Honest endeavor here will needed be, 

And when in hours with thoughtfulness replete 

We give ourselves to art with zeal complete, 
May nature warm our hearts and make them free. 

Thus only culture can attain its goal. 

In vain wild spirits will, with methods faster 

And broader, seek the heights of pure perfection. 


Who wants great things must practise self-control; 
In limitation shows himself the master, 
And liberty needs laws for wise direction. 

[Natiir und Kunst, sie scheinen sich zu fliehen 
Und haben sich, eh' man es denkt, gefunden ; 
Der Widerwille ist auch mir verschwunden, 
Und beide scheinen gleich mich anzuzieheii. 
Es gilt wohl nur ein redliches Bemiihen ! 
Und wenn wir erst in abgemessnen Stunden 
Mit Geist mid Fleiss uns an die Kunst gebunden, 
Mag frei Natur im Herzen wieder gliihen. 

So ist's mit aller Bildung auch beschaffen: 
Vergebens warden ungebundne Geister 
Nach der Vollendung reiner Hohe streben. 
Wer Grosses will, muss sich zusammenraffen ; 
In der Beschrankung zeigt sich erst der Meister, 
Und das Gesetz nur kann uns Freiheit geben.] 

On reading this sonnet before the Verein alter deutscher 
Studenten, the writer learned from Prof. J. T. Hatfield, of 
Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, that he also had 
translated the same poem, and with his permission it is here 
reprinted from his series of "Poems from the German," pub- 
lished in No. 10 of William S. Lord's little leaflet entitled Noon: 

Nature and Art seem ofttimes to be foes, 
But, ere we know it, join in making peace; 
My own repugnance, too, has come to cease. 
And each an equal power attractive shows. 
Let us but make an end to dull repose: 
When Art we serve in toil without release. 
Through stated hours, absolved from vain caprice. 
Nature once more within us freely glows. 

All culture, as I hold, must take this course; 
Unbridled spirits ever strive in vain 
Perfection's radiant summit to attain. 
Who seeks great ends must straitly curb his force; 
In narrow bounds the Master's skill shall show, 
And only Law true Freedom can bestow. 

A later translation comes from the pen of Mr. Thomas H. 
Jappe, of Brooklyn, New York. It reads as follows : 



Antagonistic art and nature seem, 
And yet are one without your knowing how; 
Gone is that feeling of aversion now, 
And equally attractive both I deem. 

Painting by Moritz Oppenheim. 

Honest endeavor is no idle dream; 
And once in measured moments bound, I trow, 
To art with mental force and sweat of brow. 
Nature in us again will freely gleam. 



True culture at all times demands the same: 
Untutored minds will ever vainly strive 
Perfection's height immaculate to scale. 
Focus your powers all if high you aim ! 
Confined in bounds is mastery in life, 
And lawless liberty will surely fail. 

The meaning of the terms Nature and Art will be under- 
stood by those who have followed our expositions. Nature is 



the ideal of the men of storm and stress, of impressionists,' of 
the Romantic school, of sentimentalists. Goethe had been op- 
posed to genius that was sowing its wild oats, but now he grants 
it the right of existence, but prophesies that it will not reach 
the perfection of art. He wants liberty, not license, even in 

272 GOETHE. 

poetry, and declares that great things can be accomplished only 
by self-control and self-limitation. 

Mankind seems to tire easily of self-control, of rule, of limi- 
tations and likewise of the classical. The pendulum swings to 
and fro, and after the classical period Germany experienced a 
vigorous revival of Romanticism. Its leading spirits were the 
Schlegel brothers (of whom August the_moreJxn- 
portant), Tieck, and a great number of minor poets of whom 
we will mention Hardenberg who under the pseudonym Novalis 
has written some very touching religious lyrics, some of which 
will remain for all ages a most noble expression of Christian 
piety. We may also classify Heine, 1797 (or 9) to 1856, with 
them, although he was least tinged with the reactionary spirit 
and a hankering after the poetry of the Middle Ages. 

In our own days we are witnessing another sentimental revolu- 
tion which would discard all norms even in science and philosophy. 
It appears that people have become tired of definiteness in their 
conception of truth, and wish to replace it by something quite 
original, the result being aberrations and vagaries. And yet 
these periods are natural and in many respects even justified and 
helpful, for they teach mankind to dig for the truth again and 
again ; for the truth is not true if it is not true to me, and nothing 
is really true to me unless I have searched for and found the 
truth myself. Therefore we — every one of us — must discover 
the same old truths. 

Says Faust in the first act of Goethe's great drama : 

Yea, the inheritance thy fathers left thee, 
Earn it anew to really possess it. 

[Was Dii ererbt von Deinen Vatern hast, 
Erwirb es, um es zu besitzen.] 

Romanticism has produced many beautiful works of litera- 
ture, but after all, the classical productions of Goethe, Schiller, 
Lessing and Herder have proved more enduring. Romantic 
poetry is almost forgotten while we return again and again to 
the great masters of classic art. 

* * * 

Goethe's world-conception, including his view of the divine 


power that acts as a dispensation in the universe, was mainly 
poetical. To be sure he was neither anti-philosophical nor anti- 
scientific : but he abhorred analysis, dissection, criticism, in brief 
all negativism, or in other words that process of thought which 
is treated with a sneer by Mephistopheles in "Faust" (I, 4) : 

He who would study organic existence, 
First drives out the soul with rigid persistence, 
Then the parts in his hand he may hold and class, 
But the spiritual link is lost, alas ! 

[War will was Lebendig's erkennen und beschreiben, 
Sucht erst den Geist herauszutreiben, 
Dann hat er die Theile in seiner Hand, 
Fehlt leider nur das geistige Band.] 

Goethe was at sword's points with both extremes, the pietist 
or dogmatist, and the iconoclast or negativist. The former was 
represented among his friends by Jacobi, a wealthy privateer 
and, as an author, an able and worthy representative of the 
Protestant faith ;2 the latter by Wolf, a philologist and the first 
higher critic of Homer, and also by Friedrich Bahrdt, a liberal 
theologian and a rationalist. 

Friedrich August Wolf, born at Haynrode, near Nordhausen, 
Germany, February 15, 1759, was perhaps the best classical 
scholar of his age. Having completed liis studies at Gottingen, 
he held a chair as professor of classical philology at Halle from 
1783 to 1807; whereupon he entered the Prussian government 
service at Berlin, and died at Marseilles, August 8, 1824. 

The modern spirit of our classical schools which is now dom- 
inant at all the universities of both continents, Europe and 
America, may be said to date from him. He was the father of 
textual criticism, and his work Prolegomena in Homermn (1794) 
was the first attempt at a scientific treatment of the Greek na- 
tional epic. 

In spite of Wolf's great merit as a scholar and thinker, 
Goethe had an intense aversion toward him because he had 
analyzed the Homeric epics, denied their original unity, resolved 
them into several rhapsodies, and doubted the historicity of 

'Ci. Alexander W: Craford, "The Philosophy of F. H. Jacobi," Cornell's 
Studies in Philosophy, No. 6. 

274 GOETHE. 

Homer's personality. Goethe's dislike of Christian liberal theo- 
logians and their higher criticism was practically based on the 
same reason, for the poet loved Christianity, even its mythology 
and legendary excrescences. He objected only to the narrow- 
ness of Christian exclusiveness which called all other religions 
pagan and would not allow him to love and revere the gods of 

Those who had attempted critically to analyze Christianity 
or the Christian Gospels, as Wolf treated Homer, became at 
once an object of Goethe's scorn, and the man upon whom he 
poured out the full vial of his sarcasm was Prof. Karl Friedrich 

Bahrdt was an unfortunate man mainly because he was in ad- 
vance of his age, and the treatment he received on account of 
his liberal theology finally proved his ruin and left him a physical 
and moral wreck. He was born in Bischofswerda, Saxony, 
August 25, 1741. He was professor first at Leipsic in 1766-68, 
then at Erfurt in 1768-71, and finally at Giessen in 1771-75. 
Dismissed on the charge of heresy he became director of the 
Philanthropin, a humanitarian school at Marschlins in 1775, 
whence he was called to Diirkheim as superintendent general and 
pastor, but the imperial council declared him incapable of holding 
ecclesiastical office and forbade him to publish any of his writ- 
ings. Driven into exile he took refuge in Prussia where he lec- 
tured on philosophy and philology at Halle, 1779-89; but having 
published a satire in the form of a comedy entitled Das Religions- 
edict (1788) in which he castigated the Prussian church govern- 
ment, he was sentenced to one year imprisonment at the fortress 
of Magdeburg. This degradation proved his ruin. After he had 
served the sentence he was broken in spirit and character, and 
the only resource left to him for making a living was to con- 
duct a dram shop. He died April 23, 1792. 

In connection with Bahrdt Goethe tells in the fourteenth 
book of "Truth and Fiction," a little joke played on Lavater, 
which did not succeed, however, since the great physiognomist 
came out victorious. Goethe says : 

"The number of those who had no faith in physiognomy, or 
at least regarded it as uncertain and deceitful, was very great; 



and several who had a liking for Lavater felt a desire to try him, 
and, if possible, to play a trick on him. He had ordered of a painter 
in Frankfort, who was not without talent, the profiles of several 
well-known persons. Lavater's agent ventured upon the jest of 
sending Bahrdt's portrait as mine, which soon brought back a 
merry but thundering epistle, full of all kinds of expletives, and 
assertions that this was not my picture,— together with every- 

*-i-a^ ■w^-' *T . 


^"*'a*''^f»»H™»i < 


thing that on such an occasion Lavater would naturally have to 
say in confirmation of the doctrine of physiognomy. My true 
likeness, which was sent afterwards, he allowed to pass more 

Goethe first became acquainted with Bahrdt through his book, 
"Eden, or Contemplations on Paradise and the Events which 
Took Place Therein." His review of Bahrdt's expositions in 

276 GOETHE. 

the Frankfurter gelehrte Anseigen in 1772, was not very favor- 
able and condemned his shallow rationahsm. Nowhere is Goethe's 
dislike for a critical analysis of literature more forcibly presented 
than in his satire on Bahrdt's "Latest Revelations of God" 
which first appeared in 1774 in Giessen as a separate print. In 
1775 it was reprinted in a collection entitled "Rhenish Must," 
and in 1779 it was incorporated in Himburg's Reprints. It is 
a dramatic sketch little known outside the narrowest circle of 
Goethe speciaHsts. For unknown reasons it has not been in- 
ckided in the Diintzer edition of Goethes Werke, and this omis- 
sion may be accountable for the fact that at present it is very 
little known. It can only be found in complete editions of 
Goethe's collected works. In the index it appears under the 
catch-word Prolog. 

So far as we know it has never been rendered into English 
and so we offer a translation of our own. The title which is a 
copy of the title of Bahrdt's book, reads as follows : 

"Prologue to the Latest Revelations of God interpreted by 
Dr. Karl Friedrich Bahrdt.— Giessen, 1774." 

Here is Goethe's treatment of the subject: 

{Professor Bahrdt in evening dress at his desk writing. His wife enters, 
[tutting on her cloak.} 

Mrs. B. Come dear, to the party ; we must not be late, 
Nor make our friends for the coffee wait. 

{Professor Bahrdt without heeding his ivife raises his paper and looks at it.) 
Prof. B. An idea happens to come to me, 

Thus should I speak, if Christ I'd be. 

{At that moment a trampling as of hoofs is heard outside.) 
Mrs. B. {startled). What trampHng hear I on the stair? 

Prof. B. 'Tis worse than students I declare, 

They come on all fours,— an awful din! 
Mrs. B. What fearful beasts are coming in ! 

{Enter the four evangelists. Mrs. Bahrdt shrieks. Matthew is attended by 
the angel; Mark by the lion; Luke by the ox; and over John hovers the 

eagle. ) 

Matt. We learn you are a brave good man. 

And do for our Lord as much as you can. 


In Christendom we are pushed about, 
Hard pressed and almost crowded out. 

Prof. B. Welcome, dear sirs, but I'll say right soon. 
Your visit is not quite opportune. 
For a party of friends awaiteth me. 

John. Children of God they surely be, 

And we will be glad to join you there! 

Prof. B. I fear they would be shocked and stare ! 

They are not accustomed, 'tis to be feared, 
To flowing garments and untrimmed beard. 
Nor are beasts admitted as visitors, 
They would be driven out of doors. 

Matt. In former days 'twas custom thus. 

Since Christ, our Lord, appointed us. 

Prof. B. Tut, tut ! that can't be helped, and so 
You can not to the party go. 

Mark. But tell me, what do you expect ? 

Prof.B. I will be brief and quite direct: 

Your writings are, I must confess, 

Just like your beards and like your dress ; 

Or like old dollars, no longer at par, 

Whose mint-stamps at a discount are. 

Were they re-coined with copper alloy. 

All people would take them at par with joy. 

Thus you, if you wish to count again, 

And be acceptable to men. 

You must become like one of us, 

Beard trimmed, well dressed and smooth, — just thus! 

In modern fashion and debonair, 

That changes at once the whole affair. 

Luke, the artist. 1 see myself in such a dress! 

Prof. B. You needn't go far for that, I guess. 
My own will fit you ! 

The Angel of Matt. What a sight ! 

An evangelist in such a plight I 

Matt. St. John has bidden us adieu, 

And brother Mark is leaving too. 

(Luke's ox comes too close to Bahrdt and steps on him.) 
Prof. B. Call off that beast that belongs to thee. 
Not even a lap-dog accompanies me. 

Luke. I will go hence, for as I see, 

This house won't suit our company. 

278 GOETHE. 

(Exeunt the four evangelists and their train.) 

Mrs. B. What manners ! I am glad they quit ! 
Prof. B. Their writings shall me pay for it. 

{Die Frau Professorin tritt auf im Puts, den Mantel umwerfend. Bahrdt sitzt 
am Pult, gam angezogen, und schreibt.) 

Frau Bahrdt. So komm denn, Kind ! Die Gesellschaft im Garten 
Wird gewiss auf uns mit dem Kaffee warten. 

Bahrdt. Da kam mir ein Einfall von ungefahr. 
(Sein gcschrieben Blatt ansehend.) 
So redt' icli, wenn ich Christus war' : 

Frau Bahrdt. Was kommt ein Getrappel die Trepp' herauf?- 

Bahrdt. s'ist arger als ein Studentenhauf. 

Das ist ein Besuch auf alien Vieren. 

Frau Bahrdt. Gott behijt ! 's ist der Tritt von Thieren. 

(Die vier Evangelisten treten herein. Die Frau Doktorin thut einen Schrei. 
Matthdus mit dem Engel; Markus, begleitet vom Lowen; Lukas, vom 
Ochsen; Johannes, iiber ihm der Adler.) 

Matthdus. Wir horen, Du bist ein Biedermann 
Und nimmst Dich unsers Herren an; 
Uns wird die Christenheit zu enge; 
Wir sind jetzt iiberall im Gedrange. 

Bahrdt. Willkomm, Ihr Herrn ! Doch thut mir's leid, 
Ihr kommt zur ungelegnen Zeit : 
Muss eben in Gesellschaft 'nein. 

Johannes. Das warden Kinder Gottes sein ; 
Wir wollen uns mit dir ergetzen. 

Bahrdt. Die Leute wtirden sich entsetzen ; 

Sie sind nicht gewohnt solche Barte breit 
Und die Rocke so lang und Falten so weit; 
Und Eure Bestien, muss ich sagen, 
Wiirde jeder Andre zur Thiir 'naus jagen. 

Matthdus Das gait doch AUes auf der Welt, 
Seitdem uns unser Herr bestellt. 

Bahrdt. Das kann mir weiter nichts bedeuten ; 

G'nug, so nehm ich Euch nicht zu Leuten. 

Markus. Und wie und was verlangst denn Du ? 

Bahrdt. Dass ich's Euch kiirzlich sagen thu' : 
Es ist mit Eurer Schriften Art, 
Mit Euern Falten und Euerm Bart 
Wie mit den alten Thalern schwer — 


Das Silber fein geprobet sehr, 

Und gelten dennoch jetzt nicht melir. 

Ein kluger Fiirst, der miinzt sie ein 

Und thut ein tikhtigs Kupfer drein; 

Da mag's denn wieder fort kursiren ! 

So miisst Ihr auch, wollt Ihr ruliren, 

Euch in Gesellschaft produziren, 

So miisst Ilir werden wie Unsereiner, 

Geputzt, gestutzt, glatt— 's gilt sonst Keiner. 

Im seidnen Mantel und Kraglein flink, 

Das ist doch gar ein ander Ding! 

Lukas der Maler. Mocht' mich in dem Kostume sehn! 

Bahrdt. Da braucht Ihr gar nicht weit zu gehn, 
Hab' just noch einen ganzen Ornat. 

DerEngelMatthai. Das war' mir ein Evangelisten-Staat ! 
Kommt ! — 

Matthaus. Johannes ist schon weggeschhchen 

Und Bruder Markus niit entwichen. 

{Des Lukas Ochs kommt Bahrdten au nah, er tritt nach ihm.) 

Bahrdt. Schafft ab ztierst das garstig' Thier ! 

Nehni' ich doch kauni ein Hiindlein mit mir. 

Lukas. Mogen gar nicht weiter verkehren mit Dir. 
{Die Evangelisten mit ihrem Gefolge ab.) 

Frau Bahrdt. Die Kerls nehmen keine Lebensart an. 
Bahrdt. Komm ! 's soUen ihre Schriften dran ! 


This humorous scene contrasts the modern professor of theol- 
ogy who puts on style and belongs to society with the original 
roughness of the four evangelists. 

Goethe objects to the higher criticism not from the standpoint 
of orthodoxy, but for purely literary reasons. He dislikes to 
have the Gospels modernized, because he prefers them to remain 
rugged, and even sometimes crude, as in part they are, for the 
same reason that he objects to a critical dissection of Homer. 
He prefers to enjoy a literary document of the past in its own 
native originality. 

Bahrdt was not offended by Goethe's criticism, and every 
reader will feel that the satire is good-natured and does not 
contain any bitterness. In this it stands in sharp contrast to other 
very venomous criticisms of Bahrdt's works. 

280 GOETHE. 

When Professor Bahrdt left Giessen in 1775 to settle in 
Marschlinz in Graubiinden, he traveled by way of Weimar for 
the special purpose of calling on Goethe. In his conversation 
with the great poet he spoke jokingly about the satire and ex- 
pressed the wish to preserve a good entente with his genial critic. 

We may add that Goethe's objection to men like Wolf, the 
philologist, and Bahrdt, the. rationalist, was to a great extent 
unjust or at least one-sided, for we need critique and negation, 
not as an end, but as a means to find a better and truer affirma- 
tion. This onesidedness may be the reason why the poem has 
been overlooked and almost forgotten. Liberals did not care 
to quote it, and dogmatists knew very well that Goethe's objec- 
tion to higher criticism was not prompted by orthodox loyalty. 
But the poem is characteristic of Goethe's positivism which con- 
demned negativism in both parties, liberals and dogmatists. 

In a brief poem entitled "The Critic," Goethe vents his wrath 
in these lines : 

I had a fellow as my guest -^ . » 

Not knowing he was such a pest, ' - 

And gave him just my usual fare; 

He ate his fill of what was there, 

And for dessert my best things swallowed, 

Soon as his meal was o'er, what followed? 

Led by the Deuce, to a neighbor he went, 

And talked of my food to his heart's content. 

"The soup might surely have had more spice, 

The meat was ill-browned, the wine wasn't nice." 

A thousand curses alight on his head ! 

'Tis a critic, I vow ! Let the dog be struck dead !" 

— Tr. after Bowring. 

[Da hatt' ich einen Kerl zu Gast, 

Er war mir eben nicht zur Last; 

Ich hatt' just mein gewohnlich Essen, 

Hat sich der Kerl pumpsatt gefressen, 

Zum Nachtisch, was ich gespeichert hatt'. 

Und kaum ist mir der Kerl so satt, 

Thut ihn der Teufel zum Nachbar fiihren 

Ueber mein Essen zu rasonniren: 

"Die Supp' hatt' konnen gewiirzter sein, 

Der Braten brauner, firner der Wein." 

Der Tausendsakerment ! 

Schlagt ihn todt, den Hund ! Es ist ein Recensent.] 



Critics are mere yelpers, says Goethe in another poem, and 
their barking only proves that the person barked at is their 
superior in attainments or positiori. 

Our rides in all directions bend, 
For business or for pleasure, 
Yet yelpings on our steps attend. 
And barkings without measure. 
The dog that in our stable dwells, 
After our heels is striding, 
And all the while his noisy yells 
But show that we are riding. 

— Tr. after Bowring. 

[Wir reiten in die Kreuz' und Quer' 

Nach Freuden und Geschaften; 

Doch immer klafft es hinterher 

Und billt aus alien Kraften. 

So will der Spitz aus unserm Stall 

Uns immerfort begleiten, 

Und seines Bellens lauter Schall 

Beweis't nur, dass wir reiten.] 


GOETHE described characteristic attitudes of himself in all 
his heroes. He possessed a streak of Werther's pessimism, 
of Goetz's romanticism, of Tasso's impatience, of Egmont's 
gaiety and overconfidence, of Wilhelm Meister's eagerness for 
self -development, etc., but in Faust the poet revealed the most 
intimate aspirations of his own being and of the destiny he felt 
to be his ov4rn; and this is true even if we grant that Faust in- 
corporates many striking resemblances to Gottfried Herder, as 
Dr. Giinther Jacoby has attempted to prove. For this reason 
it may be truly said that Goethe's main work is his "Faust," 
which he had begun in his early youth and finished at an ad- 
vanced age. 

lyike Prometheus, Faust is of a Titanic cast of mind. He does 
not bow to God nor does he fear the Evil One. He cares not for 
his fate in this world nor in the next. He possesses unusual 
strength of mind. Him the thought of heaven does not allure, 
nor hell terrify. His inborn desire, even when he seems to sur- 
render it, at bottom remains to 

"... .detect the inmost force 
' 'Which binds the world, and guides its course.'' 

[Dass ich erkenne, was die Welt 
Im Innersten zusammenhalt.] 

Faust is anxious to dare and to do. He does not shrink from 
danger, or shipwreck. He will share the fate common to all 
"mankind, will enjoy life's pleasures but also willingly endure 
its pain. He is a man, and though he wishes to be a man in the 
full sense of the word, he does not want to be anything else. 
When Faust sees the symbol of the Earth-Spirit he exclaims: 


How otherwise upon me works this sign ! 

Thou, Spirit of the Earth, art nearer: 

Even now my powers are loftier, clearer ; 

I glow, as drunk with new-made wine; 

New strength and heart I feel to do and dare, 

The pain of life and all its joys to share. 

And though the shock of storms may smite me. 

No crash of shipwreck shall have power to fright'me!" 

[Wie anders wirkt dies Zeichen auf mich ein! 

Du, Geist der Erde, bist mir naher; 

Schon fiihl' ich raeine Kriifte hoher, 

Schon gliih' ich wie von neuem Wein. 

Ich fiihle Muth, mich in die Welt zu wagen, 

Der Erde Weh, der Erde Gluck zu tragen, 

Mit Stiirmen mich herumzuschlagen 

Und in des Schiffbruch's Knirschen nicht zu zagen.] 

This endeavor to be a man with men is expressed again when 
Faust has concluded his contract with Mephistopheles : 

My bosom, of its thirst for knowledge sated. 
Shall not, henceforth, from any pang be wrested, 
Whatever then to all mankind be fated 
Shall be within mine inmost being tested : 
The highest, lowest forms I mean to borrow. 
And heap upon myself their bliss and sorrow. 
And thus my own soul to all else expanded. 
With all the others shall at last be stranded! 

[Mein Busen, der vom Wissensdrang geheilt ist. 
Soil keinen Schmerzen kiinftig sich verschliessen, 
Und was der ganzen Menschheit zugetheilt ist, 
Will ich in meinem innern Selbst geniessen, 
Mit meinem Geist das Hochst' und Tiefste greifen, 
Ihr Wohl und Weh auf meinen Busen haufen, 
Und so mein eigen Selbst zu ihrem Selbst erweitern, 
Und, wie sie selbst, am End' auch ich zerscheitern.] 

The Faust of the folk-legend represents the spirit of the Ref- 
ormation with all it implies, the dawn of natural science and the 
re-awakening of the humanities. He studies in Wittenberg, the 
university of Luther, and his very name identifies him with 
Faustus, the companion of Gensfleisch-Gutenberg, the inventor 
of the black art of printing. Further he represents the Renais- 
sance, the revival of a study of the classics together with Greek 
art and its noble ideals, pagan though they were. This is sym- 
bolized in the figure of Helen, the type of beauty whom Faust 



By Franz Simtn. 


makes visible to the eyes of his audience. Incidentally Faust 
also shows his sympathy with the ancient Teutonic paganism by 
participating in the witches' festival that is celebrated in the 
Walpurgis night on the Brocken. But this is not all. Faust is 
an inquirer into the secrets of nature. In this he bears a resem- 
blance to Roger Bacon who in a lecture before the students of 
Paris imitated the rainbow by letting a ray of light pass through 
a prism, the result being that his audience rose in a general up- 
roar shouting that he practised magic and was in league with 
the Evil One. In compliance with the popular belief of the age, 
Goethe actually represents Faust as a past-master in the art of 
magic. The Faust of the folk-legend visits foreign countries by 
magic means, and performs most wonderful feats;, so we may 
say that he incorporates also the spirit of the bold explorers and 
navigators who in scorn of danger crossed the unknown seas, 
opened new regions to commerce and brought back to their home 
the wealth of distant countries. 

Faust typifies aspiring mankind and has his predecessors in 
all those characters of history, literature and legend who find 
no satisfaction in their surroundings but dare destiny to yield 
to them pleasanter, better, nobler conditions with a richer and 
deeper life. Thus Faust embodies all those features which Goethe 
himself endeavored to acquire and which he possessed in a high 

Goethe's interest in the traditional Faust-character showed 
itself very intensely in his study of magic lore, and we know of 
a period in his life when he gave himself up to alchemy, astrology 
and kindred pseudo-sciences as if he believed in their teachings. 

In "Faust" his love of mysticism comes out prominently and 
he did not study the mystics without being fascinated by the 
poetry of their views. So, for instance, the profound conception 
of the soul as a microcosm he derived from Giovanni Pico, Count 
of Mirandola. 

This interesting personality was born on February 24, 1463, 
and died November 17, 1494. He was a prominent young 
Italian nobleman of fine figure and beautiful face, highly edu- 
cated not only in Greek and Latin, but also in Hebrew, Arabic 
and Chaldean. Having studied two years in Bologna when only 





fourteen or fifteen years old, he began his Wanderjahre which 
lasted seven years, visiting the learned schools of Italy and 
France. His philosophy may be characterized as Platonism 
reconciled with the doctrines of Aristotle; but his dominant 
interest was centered in mysticism, and he was the first to main- 
tain that the truth of the Christian doctrines could be proved 
through the Cabala. Though he was a good Christian his ene- 
mies threw the suspicion of heresy upon him, and his first little 
book of nine hundred theses was prohibited by papal authority. 
But after the publication of an elaborate Apologia Pope Alexan- 
der VI declared him vindicated in a document dated June 18, 
1493. In his twenty-eighth year he wrote the Heptaphis and at 
this time suddenly changed his habits of life. Having formerly 
been a favorite with women, he now burned all his love poems 
and became an ascetic. He renounced his share in the princi- 
pality of Mirandola, gave richly to the poor and devoted most 
of his time to religious mecUtation. When he would have fin- 
ished his literary labors he intended to give away all his property 
and wander as a bare- footed friar from town to town proclaim- 
ing salvation through Christ. But before he could carry out this 
plan he died of a fever at Florence in his thirty-first year. So 
far as is known he was the first to coin the word "macrocosm" 
denoting the whole of the world, which is described so beautifully 
in the first scene of Goethe's "Faust," where Faust revels in the 
contemplation of its sign, saying: 

Ha ! what a rapture leaps from this I view. . . . 
How each the whole its substance gives, 
Each in the other works and lives ! 

[Ha, welche Wonne fliesst in diesem Blick 

Wie alles sich zum Ganzen webt, 
Eins in dem Andern wirkt und lebt !] 

Bayard Taylor in his Notes makes the following interesting 
comment on this monologue of Faust when he beholds the sign 

of the macrocosm : 

"The term 'macrocosm' was used by Pico di Mirandola, 
Paracelsus and other mystical writers, to denote the universe. 
They imagined a mysterious correspondence between the macro- 



cosm (the world in large) and the microcosm (the world in 
little), or man; and most of the astrological theories were based 
on the influence of the former upon the latter. From some of 
Goethe's notes, still in existence, we learn that during, the time 
when the conception of Faust first occupied his mind (1770-73), 
he read Welling's Opus Mago-Cabhalisticwm, Paracelsus, Valen- 
tinus, the Aurea Catena Homeri, and even the Latin poet Mani- 

"Mr. Blackie, in his Notes, quotes a description of the macro- 

After P. Rembrandt. 

cosm from a Latin work of Robert Fludd, published at Oppen- 
heim in 1619; but the theory had already been given in the 
Heptaplw of Pico di Mirandola (about 1490). The universe, 
according to him, consists of three worlds, the earthly, the 
heavenly, and the super-heavenly. The first includes our planet 
and its enveloping space, as far as the orbit of the moon; the 
second, the sun and stars; the third, the governing divine in- 
fluences. The same phenomena belong to each, but have different 
grades of manifestation. Thus the physical element of fire 


exists in the earthly sphere, the warmth of the sun in the heav- 
enly, and a seraphic, spiritual fire in the empyrean; the first 
burns, the second quickens, the third loves. 'In addition to these 
three w^orlds (the macrocosm),' says Pico, 'there is a fourth 
(the microcosm), containing all embraced within them. This 
is man, in whom are included a body formed of the elements, a 
heavenly spirit, reason, an angelic soul, and a resemblance to 

"The work of Cornelius Agrippa, De occulta philosophia, 
which was also known to Goethe, contains many references to 
these three divisions of the macrocosm, and their reciprocal in- 
fluences. The latter are described in the passage commencing: 
'How each the Whole its substance gives!' 

"Hayward quotes, as explanatory of these lines, the following 
sentence from Herder's Idccn ::iir Philosophie dcr Geschichte 
der Mcnschhcit:- 'When, therefore, I open the great book of 
Heaven, and see before me this measureless palace, which alone, 
and everywhere, the Godhead only has power to fill, I conclude, 
as undistractedly as I can, from the whole to the particular, and 
from the particular to the whole.' 

"The four lines which Faust apparently quotes ('What says 
the sage, now first I recognize') are not from Nostradamus. 
They may possibly have been suggested by something in Jacob 
Boehme's first work, 'Aurora, or the Rising Dawn,' but it is not 
at all necessary that they should be an actual quotation." 

Faust despairs of the possibility of knowledge and the useful- 
ness of science. This, however, means the pseudo-science of 
magic, the occulta scientia, that great hope of the scientists of 
the Middle Ages. Faust says : 

I've studied now Philosophy [Habe nun, ach, Philosophie, 

And Jurisprudence, Medicine, — Juristerei und Medizin 

And even, alas! Theology,— Und leider auch Theologie 

From end to end, with labor keen; Durchaus studirt, mit heissem Be- 

And here, poor fool ! with all my lore miihn ! 

I stand, no wiser than before : Da steh' ich nun, ich armer Thor, 

I'm Magister— yea, Doctor— hight, Und bin so klug als wie zuvor; 

And straight or cross-wise, wrong or Heisse Magister, heisse Doktor gar 

right, Und ziehe schon an die zehen Jahr' 

These ten years long, with many woes, Herauf, herab und quer und krumm 

I've led my scholars by the nose,— Meine Schiiler an der Nase herum— 



By A. von Kreling. 


And see that nothing can be known 1 Und sehe, dass wir nichts wissen kon- 
Forsooth, that cuts me to the bone. nen. 

Das will mir schier das Herz ver- 

In his conversation with Wagner he exclaims (Scene II) : 

I O happy he, who still renews 

I The hope, from Error's deeps to rise forever! 

I That which one does not know, one needs to use ; 

\ And what one knows, one uses never. 

[O gliicklich, wer noch hoffen kann, 
Aus diesem Meer des Irrthums aufzutauchen ! 
Was man nicht weiss, das eben brauchte man, 
Und was man weiss, kann man nicht braucheh.] 

Faust's despondency recalls an actual fact in the life of 
Agrippa von Nettesheim, one of his prototypes who, having 
written a large work Dc occulta scicntia, wrote a book at the 
end of his career which bore the title De vanitate scientiaruni. 

If science fails, if knowledge is impossible, and if reason can 
not be relied upon, mankind is left without a guide. Hence 
Faust's despair is well supplemented by the cynical advice which 
Mephistopheles gives to the student. These comments are full 
of satire, criticising the actual conditions of the sciences as 
practised by mediocre and self-seeking men. 

Overcome by. his despondency Faust is disgusted with the 
search for knowledge and sunply wishes to be a man among 
men, expecting thereby to quench the thirst of his soul with 
the inane vanities of Hfe with which common people are satis- 
fied^ In this frame of mind he concludes his pact with Meph- 
istopheles which is important for the comprehension of Goethe's 
plan, and we should notice the very words of the condition under 
which Faust accepts the service of Mephistopheles and forfeits 
his soul in the next world. Since the scene is of such significance 
we quote its most important passage as follows : 


Wilt thou to me entrust 

Thy steps through life, I'll guide thee,— 

Will willingly walk beside thee, — 



By A. Liezen-Mayer. 


Will serve thee at once and forever 

With best endeavor, 

And, if thou art satisfied. 

Will as servant, slave, with thee abide. 


And what shall be my counter-service therefor? 


The time is long : thou needst not now insist. 


No — no ! The Devil is an egotist. 
And is not apt, without a why or wherefore, 
"For God's sake," others to assist. 
Speak thy conditions plain and clear ! 
With such a servant danger comes, I fear. 


Here, an unwearied slave, I'll wear thy tether. 
And to thine every nod obedient be ; 
When There again we come together, 
Then shalt thou do the same for me. 


The There my scruples nought increases. 

When thou hast dashed this world to pieces. 

The other, then, its place may fill. 

Here, on this earth, my pleasures have their sources; 

Yon sun beholds my sorrows in his courses; 

And when from these my life itself divorces, 

Let happen all that can or will ! 

I'll hear no more; 't is vain to ponder 

If there we cherish love or hate. 

Or, in the spheres we dream of yonder, 

A High and Low our souls await. 


In this sense, even, canst thou venture. 
Come, bind thyself by prompt indenture, 
And thou mine arts with joy shalt see : 
What no man ever saw, I'll give to thee. 


Canst thou, poor Devil, give me whatsoever 
When was a human soul, in its supreme endeavor, 
E'er understood by such as thou? 
Yet, hast thou food which never satiates, now— 
The restless, ruddy gold hast thou. 



By A. Liezen-Mayer. 



That runs, quicksilver-like, one's fingers through, — 

A game whose winnings no man ever knew, — 

A maid, that, even from my breast, 

Beckons my neighbor with her wanton glances, 

And Honor's godlike zest. 

The meteor .that a moment dances, — 

Show me the fruits that, ere they're gathered, rot, 

And trees that daily with new leafage clothe them! 


Such a demand alarms me not: 

Such treasures have I, and can show them. 

By Franz Simm. 

But still the time may reach us, good my friend, 
When peace we crave and more luxurious diet. 


When on an idler's bed I stretch myself in quiet. 
There let, at once, my record end! 
Canst thou with lying flattery rule me, 

296 GOETHE. 

Until, self-pleased, myself I see, — 
Canst thou with rich enjoyment fool me. 
Let that day be the last for me ! 
The bet I offer. 




And heartily! 
When thus I hail the moment flying: 
"Ah, still delay — thou art so fair!" 
Then bind me in thy bonds undying, 
My final ruin then declare I 
Then let the death-bell chime the token, 
Then art thou from thy service free! 
The clock may stop, the hand be broken, 
Then Time be finished unto me ! 


Doch willst Du mit mir vereint 

Deine Schritte durchs Leben nehmen. 

So will ich mich gern bequemen, 

Dein zu sein auf der Stelle. 

Ich bin Dein Geselle, 

Und mach' ich Dir's recht. 

Bin ich Dein Diener, bin Dein Knecht ! 


Und was soil ich dagegen Dir erfiillen? 


Dazu hast Du noch eine lange Frist. 


Nein, nein ! Der Teufel ist ein Egpist 

Und thut nicht leicht um Gottes willen, ' 

Was einem Andern nutzlich ist. 

Sprich die Bedingung deutlich aus; 

Ein solcher Diener bringt Gefahr in's Haus. 


lich will mich hier zu Deinem Dienst verbinden, 
Auf Deinen Wink nicht rasten und nicht ruhn; 
Wenn wir uns driiben wiederfinden, 
So sollst Du mir das Gleiche thun. 


Das Driiben kann mich wenig kiimmern ; 
Schlagst Du erst diese Welt zu Triimmern, 


Die andre mag darnach entslchn. 
Aus dieser Erde quillen meine Freuden, 
Und diese Sonne scheinet meinen Leiden ; 
Kann ich mich erst von ihnen scheiden, 
Dann mag, was will und kann, geschehn. 
Davon will ich nichts weiter horen, 
Ob man audi kiinftig hasst und liebt, 
Und ob es audi in jenen Spharen 
Ein Oben oder Unten giebt. 


In diesem Sinne kannst Du's wagen. 
Verbinde Didi; Du sollst in diesen Tagen 
Mit Freuden meine Kiinste sehn. 
Ich gebe Dir, was noch kein Mensch gesehn. 


Was willst Du armer Teufel geben? 

Ward eines Menschen Geist in seinem hohen Streben 

Von Deinesgleichen je gefasst? 

Doch hast Du Speise, die nicht sattigt, hast 

Du rothes Gold, das ohne Rast, 

Quecksilber gleich, Dir in der Hand zerrinnt, 

Ein Spiel, bei dem man nie gewinnt, 

Ein Madchen, das an meiner Brust 

Mit Aeugeln schon dem Nachbar sich verbindet, 

Der Ehre schone Gotterlust, 

Die wie ein Meteor verschwindet. 

Zeig mir die Frucht, die fault, eh man sie bricht, 

Und Baume, die sich taglich neu begrunen ! 


Ein solcher Auftrag schreckt mich nicht, 
Mit solchen Schatzen kann ich dienen. 
Doch, guter Freund, die Zeit kommt auch heran. 
Wo wir was Gut's in Ruhe schmausen mogen. 

Werd' ich beruhigt je mich auf ein Faulbett legen, 

So sei es gleich um mich gethan ! 

Kannst Du mich schmeichelnd je beliigen, 

Dass ich mir selbst gefallen mag, 

Kannst Du mich mit Genuss betrugen: 

Das sei fiir mich der letzte Tag! 

Die Wette biet' ich! 





Und Schlag auf Schlag! 
Werd' ich zum Augenblicke sagen: 
Verweile doch ! Du bist so schon ! 
Dann magst Du mich in Fesseln schlagen, 
Daiin will ich gern zu Grunde gelin ! 
Dann mag die Todtenglocke schallen, 
Dann bist Du Deines Dienstes frei, 
Die Uhr mag stehn, der Zeiger fallen, 
Es sei die Zeit fiir mich vorbei!] 

At the time when the Faust legend took shape nothing extra- 
ordinary could be done except with the help of the Evil One, 


and the reckless and wicked men who obtained such assistance 
were doomed to eternal damnation. According to the original 
plan of the Faust-legend, Faust was indeed lost, for the old folk- 
lore story is written from the standpoint of orthodox Catholicism. 
It makes Faust conclude his pact with the Devil without any 




After Scheible's reproductions from Widmann's Faust. 



alternative, and when the time is up, his soul is forfeited and the 
Devil carries him away to hell. 

It is strange, however, that Protestant writers took a greater 
interest in the story than Catholics. Perhaps they felt that the 
problem of the man who risked even the salvation of his soul for 
the sake of expanding his knowledge of and control over the 
powers of nature touched their own experience. 

The first and most extensive treatment of the Faust legend is 
that of the Volksbuch^ which was dramatized by Marlowe, 


Shakespeare's famous contemporary. We here reproduce a rare 
print published as a title vignette in the first edition of Marlowe's 
drama representing Faust conjuring the Devil. 

During the period of Storm and Stress almost every German 
poet treated the legend of Faust, and the best known of these 

'■ For details of the Faust legend as treated by Marlowe and in the Volks- 
buch see the author's History of the Devil, pp. 422-429. , 


versions is the drama by Klinger, a powerful play, but not with- 
out the faults of the vigorous but immature spirits of his time. 
Lessing wrote a "Faust" which by an unfortunate accident was 
lost in the mails. A synopsis of his plan is contained in his Col- 
lected Works. Lenau's "Faust" is not very remarkable but it 
is still known and read. 

The motive of Faust's relation to Mephistopheles is taken 
from the old legend of Theophilus who in his ambition to excel 
all others in fame and ecclesiastical dignity makes a contract 
with the Devil, but repents, does penance and is finally saved by 
the intercession of the Virgin Mary, who compels the Devil to 
surrender his claim to the soul of Theophilus. The lesson of 
this legend on the one hand is to warn good Christians to beware 
of the Devil who is on the qui vive to catch the souls even of the 
saints, and on the other hand to declare the unlimited power of 
the Church to rescue from distress and to save the pious from the 
very clutches of Satan. 

The Theophilus legend was a favorite story with pious 
Christians throughout the Middle Ages, and we have a thirteenth 
century manuscript illuminated by Monk Conrad of the Scheiern 
monastery which is now preserved in the Library of Munich. 
The pictui^e reproduced from this medieval book shows first how 
Theophilus is prompted by the Devil of Vanity to give alms. 
Repenting the contract he had made, he is shown in the second 
picture praying to the Virgin Mary. In the third picture he 
does penance and an angel delivers to him the handwriting of 
the contract. In the fourth picture he confesses to the bishop 
and delivers into his hands the document restored to him by the 
grace of Mary. 

But while there is hope for a man like Theophilus who con- 
fesses his sin, repents, seeks the assistance of the Church, sub- 
mits to discipline and does penance, there is no salvation for 
Faust, the representative of Protestantism. He has cut himself 
loose from the Church that alone can save, and so he foregoes 
the advantage of the Church's means of grace. Marlowe and all 
the many other poets who dramatized the Faust legend before 
Goethe adopt the principle of the old folk-lore story that regards 



Faust as lost and quite beyond redemption. Even Goethe's 
original intention had been the same. In the prison scene Faust 

comes to the rescue of Gretchen but finds her in a dreadful state 
of insanity. He urges her to leave, but she answers : 



By Franz Simm. 

304 GOETHE. 

If the grave is there, [1st das Grab drauss, 

Death lying in wait, then come! Lauert der Tod, so.komm! 

From here to eternal rest: Von hier ins ewige Ruhebett, 

No further step — no, no ! Und waiter keinen Schfitt — ] 

Faust tries first persuasion and then force ; she does not yield 
but stays. In the meantime day dawns and when Mephistopheles 
calls Faust, "Hither to me!" he goes leaving Gretchen to her 
doom. This conclusion of the first part was intended to indicate 
that while Gretchen's soul is purified Faust remains under the 
influence of Mephistopheles. 

Yet Goethe had made Faust too human, too ideally human, 
not to have that redeeming feature which would make his eternal 
perdition impossible. It is true, he goes astray and is implicated 
in crimes. He becomes guilty of the death of Valentine although 
he slays him merely in self-defense. He is accessory to the death 
of Gretchen, the mother, as well as of her baby. Faust is not a 
criminal, but his wretched, behavior implicates him in guilt; and 
yet not otherwise than is indicated in the stanza of the harper in 
"Wilhelm Meister," the venerable protector of Mignon, who 
sings : 

Who never ate with tears his bread. 

Who never through night's heavy hours 

Sat weeping on his lonely bed, — 
He know's you not, ye heavenly powers ! 

Through you the paths of life we gain, 

Ye let poor mortals go astray, 
And then abandon them to pain, — 

Since man the penalty must pay. 

[Wer nie sein Brod mit Thranen ass, 

Wer nie die kummervollen Nachte 

Auf seinem Bette weinend sass, 

Der kennt euch nicht, ihr himmlischen Machte! 

Ihr fiihrt in's Leben uns hinein, 
Ihr lasst den Armen schuldig werden, 
Dann iiberlasst ihr ihn der Pein: 
Denn alle Schuld racht sich auf Erden.] 

Protestantism is a protest against the narrowness of the 
medieval Church. It is a negation of the old, and Faust likewise 


is a destructive spirit. He boldly curses everything which be- 
guiles him with false illusions. He exclaims : 

Cursed be the vine's transcendent nectar, — 
The highest favor Love lets fall! 
Cursed, also, Hope!— cursed Faith, the spectre! 
And cursed be Patience most of all I 

[Fluch sei dem Balsamsaft der Trauben! 
Fluch jener hochsten Liebeshuld ! 
Fluch sei der Hoffnung! Fluch dem Glauben, 
Und Fluch vor Allen der Geduld !] 

Faust destroys his old ideals, but he feels in himself the 
power to build them up again, and this is expressed by the chorus 
of spirits who sing: 

Woe! Woe! [Weh ! Weh! 

Thou hast it destroyed, Du hast sie zerstort. 

The beautiful world. Die schone Welt, 

With powerful fist: Mit machtiger Faust; 

In ruin 't is hurled, Sie sturzt, sie zerfallt ! 

By the blow of a demi-god shattered ! Ein Halbgott hat sie zerschlagen ! 

The scattered Wir tragen 

Fragments into the Void we carry, Die Triimmern ins Nichts hiniiber 

Deploring Und klagen 

The beauty perished beyond restoring. Ueber die verlorne Schone. 

Mightier Machtiger 

For the children of men, Der Erdensohne, 

Brightlier Prachtiger 

Build it again, Baue sie wieder. 

In thine own bosom build it anew ! In Deinem Busen baue sie auf ! 

Bid the new career Neuen Lebenslauf 

Commence, Beginne 

With clearer sense, Mit hellem Sinne, 

And the new songs of cheer Und neue Lieder 

Be sung thereto! Tonen darauf !] 

Goethe felt that the bold progressiveness of science and the 
insatiate aspiration of the spirit of invention to make the powers 
of nature subservient to the needs of man, could not be sin. The 
courage of a man who truly says to himself, "Nor hell nor Devil 
can longer affright me," is evidence of his strength, his manli- 
ness, his independence, and even the good Lord must cherish 
respect for him.. Therefore in spite of all the errors into which 



he might fall, Faust can not be lost. To err is human. Says the 
good Lord in the Prologue: 

While man's desires and aspirations stir, 
He cannot clioose but err. 

[Es irrt der Mensch, so lang er strebt.] 


Fresco by Volterra in the Campo Santo at Pisa. 

But error is the inheritance of the human race. Adds the 
Lord : 

A good man through obscurest aspiration 
Has still an instinct of the one true way. 

[Ein guter Mensch, in seinem dunkeln Drange, 
1st sich des rechten Weges wohl bewusst.] 

In this sense Goethe completed his "Faust" and justified the 
final salvation of Faust's soul in the Prologue, the main passage 
of which also deserves to be quoted in full. 



The scene opens with a doxology of the archangels who 
praise creation, the sun, the earth, the magnificence of nature 
and especially the still small voice which most of all reveals the 
glory of God. As Satan appeared before God to accuse Job, so 
Mephistopheles comes to the celestial assemblage. The scene 
reads as follows : 

By Franz Simm. 


Since Thou, O Lord, deign'st to approach agahi 

And ask us how we do, in manner kindest, 

And heretofore to meet myself wert fain, 

Among Thy menials, now, my face Thou findest. 

Pardon, this troop I cannot follow after 

With lofty speech, though by them scorned and spurned : 

My pathos certainly would move Thy laughter, 

308 GOETHE. 

If Thou hadst not all merriment unlearned. 

Of suns and worlds I've nothing to be quoted ; 

How men torment themselves, is all I've noted. 

The little god o' the world sticks to the same old way, 

And is as whimsical as on Creation's day. 

Life somewhat better might content him. 

But for the gleam of heavenly light which Thou hast lent him : 

He calls it Reason — thence his power's increased. 

To be far beastlier than any beast. 

Saving Thy Gracious Presence, he to me 

A long-legged grasshopper appears to be, 

That springing flies, and flying springs, 

And in the grass the same old ditty sings. 

Would he still lay among the grass he grows in ! 

Each bit of dung he seeks, to stick his nose in. 


Hast thou, then, nothing more to mention ? 
Com' St ever, thus, with ill intention? 
Find'st nothing right on earth, eternally? 


No, Lord ! I find thingSj there, still bad as they can be. 

Man's misery even to pity moves my nature ; 

I've scarce the heart to plague the wretched creature. 

Know'st Faust? 



The Doctor Faust? 


My servant, he! 


Forsooth ! He serves you after strange devices : 
No earthly meat or drink the fool suffices : 
His spirit's ferment far aspireth ; 
Half conscious of his frenzied, crazed unrest. 
The fairest stars from Heaven he requireth, 
From Earth the highest raptures and the best, 
And all the Near and Far that he desireth 
Fails to subdue the tumult of his breast. 


Though still confused his service unto Me, 
I soon shall lead him to a clearer morning. 
Sees not the gardener, even while buds his tree. 
Both flower and fruit the future years adorning? 



What will you bet? There's still a chance to gain him, 
If unto me full leave you give, 
Gently upon my road to train him ! 


As long as he on earth shall live. 
So long I make no prohibition. 
While Man's desires and aspirations stir, 
He cannot choose but err. 


My thanks \' I find the dead no acquisition, 

And never cared to have them in my keeping, 

I much prefer the cheeks where ruddy blood is leaping. 

And when a corpse approaches, close my house : 

In life is sport. Thus treats the cat the mouse. 


Enough ! What thou hast asked is granted. 
Turn off this spirit from his fountain-head ; 
To trap him, let thy snares be planted, 
Let him, with thee, be downward led; 
Then stand abashed, when thou art forced to say: 
A good man, through obscurest aspiration, 
1 Has still an instinct of the one true way. 


Da Du, o Herr, Dich einmal wieder nahst 

Und fragst, wie Alles sich bei uns befinde, 

Und Du mich sonst gewohnlich gerne sahst, 

So siehst Du mich auch under dem Gesinde. 

Verzeih, ich kann nicht hohe Worte machen, 

Und wenn mich auch der ganze Kreis verhohnt; 

Main Pathos brachte Dich gewiss zum Lachen, 

Hattst Du Dir nicht das Lachen abgewohnt. 

Von Sonn' und Welten weiss ich nichts zu sagen, 

Ich sehe nur, wie sich die Menschen plagen. 

Der kleine Gott der Welt bleibt stets von gleichem Schlag 

Und ist so wunderlich als wie am ersten Tag. 

Ein wenig besser wiird' er leben, 

Hattst Du ihm nicht den Schein des Himmelslichts gegeben; 

Er nennt's Vernunft und braucht's allein, 

Nur thierischer als jedes Thier zu sein. 

Er scheint mir, mit Verlaub von Euer Gnaden, 

Wie eine der langbeinigen Zikaden, 

Die immer fliegt und fliegend springt 

" Mephistopheles expresses his thanks for permission to test Faust while 
he still lives. 

310 GOETHE. 

Und gleich im Gras ihr altes Liedchen singt. 
Und lag' er nur noch immer in dem Grase! 
In jeden Quark begrabt er seine Nase. 


Hast Du mir weiter nichts zu sagen? 
Kommst Du nur immer anzuklagen? 
1st auf der Erde ewig Dir nichts recht? 


Nein, Herr, icli find' es dort, wie immer, herzlich sclilecht. 
Die Mensclien dauern mich in ihren Jammertagen; 
Ich mag sogar die armen selbst nicht plagen. 


Kennst Du den Faust? 


Den Doktor? 


Meinen Kneclit ! 


Furwahr, er dient Euch auf besondre Weise. 
Nicht irdisch ist des Thoren Trank noch Speise; 
Ihn treibt die Gahrung in die Feme, 
Er ist sich seiner ToUheit halb bewusst : 
Vom Himmel fordert er die schonsten Sterne 
Und von der Erde jede hochste Lust, 
Und alle Niih' und alle Feme 
Befriedigt nicht die tiefbewegte Brust. 


Wenn er mir jetzt auch nur verworren dient, 
So ward' ich ihn bald in die Klarheit fiihren. 
Weiss doch der Gartner, wenn das Baumchen griint, 
Dass Bliith' und Frucht die kiinft'gen Jahre zieren. 


Was wettet Ihr? Den sollt Ihr noch verlieren, 
Wenn Ihr mir die Erlaubniss gebt, 
Ihn meine Strasse sacht zu fiihren. 


So lang' er auf der Erde lebt, 

So lange sei Dir's nicht verboten. 

Es irrt der Mensch, so lang' er strebt. 



Da dank' ich Euch ; denn mit den Todten 

Hab' ich mich niemals gem befangen. 

Am Meisten lieb'.ich mir die voUen, frischen Wangen, 

Fiir einen Leichnam bin ich nicht zu Haus; 

Mir geht es wie der Katze mit der Maus. 


Nun gut, es sei Dir uberlassen! 

Zieh diesen Geist von seinem Urquell ab 

Und fiihr ihn, kannst Du ihn erfassen, 

Auf Deinem Wege mit herab 

Und steh beschamt, wenn Du bekennen musst; 

Ein guter Mensch, in seinem dunkeln Drange, 

1st sich des rechten Weges wohl bewusst.] 

But Mephistopheles has underrated the difficulty of his task, 
Faust concludes his pact without fear, because he is fully con- 
scious of the Devil's inability to fulfil his promise. As has been 
quoted above, Faust says : 

Canst thou, poor Devil, give me whatsoever? 
When was a human soul in its sublime endeavor, 
E'er understood by such as thou? 

[Was willst Du arnier Teufcl geben? 

Ward eines Menschen Geist in seinem hohen Streben 

Von Deinesgleichen je gefasst?] 

Faust promises to surrender himself body and soul when he 
would ever be satisfied with mere enjoyment, with empty pleas- 
ures, with vanity, with lazy indolence. We here repeat the pas- 
sage for it is important. Faust says : 

When on an idler's bed I stretch myself in quiet. 

There let, at once, my record end! 

Canst thou with lying flattery rule me, 

Until, self-pleased, myself I see,— 

Canst thou with rich enjoyment fool me. 

Let that day be the last for me ! 

This bet I offer. 

[Werd' ich beruhigt je mich auf ein Faulbett legen. 
So sei es gleich um mich gethan ! 
Kannst Du mich schmeichelnd je beliigen, 
Dass ich mir selbst gefallen mag, 

312 GOETHE. 

Kannst Dti mich mit Genuss betriigen: 
Das sei fiir mich der letzte Tag! 
Die Wette biet' ich!] 

Mephistopheles imagines that Faust will finally succumb to 
man's inborn vanity, egotism, and hankering after pleasure. 
When Faust in his temporary despair of the efficacy of science 
as well as of finding satisfaction in great deeds, has concluded 
his pact, Mephistopheles feels sure of a final triumph. He ex- 
presses his wrong estimation of Faust in these words : 

Reason and Knowledge tliou despise, 

The highest strength in man that lies ! 

Let but the Lying Spirit bind thee 

With magic works arid shows that blind thee 

And I shall have thee fast and sure ! — 

Fate such a bold, untrammeled spirit gave him, 

As forwards, onwards; ever must endure; 

Whose overhasty imp'ulse drove him 

Past earthly joys he might secure. 

Dragged through- the. wildest life, will I enslave him, 

Through flat and stale indifference; 

With struggling, chilling, checking, so deprave him 

That, to his hot, insatiate sense. 

The, dream of drink shall mock, but never lave him; 

Refreshment shall his lips in vain implore — 

Had he not made himself the Devil's, naught could save him. 

Still were he lost forevermore ! 

[Verachte nur Vernunft und Wissenschaft, 

Des Menschen allerhochste Kraft, 

Lass nur in Blend- und Zauberwerken 

Dich von dem Liigengeist bestarken, 

So hab' ich Dich schon unbedingt — 

Ihm hat das Schicksal einen Geist gegeben, 

Der ungebandigt inimer vorwarts dringt, 

Und dessen ijbereiltes Streben 

Der Erde Freuden iiberspringt. 

Den schlepp' ich durch das wilde Leben, 

Durch flache Unbedeutenheit, 

Er soil mir zappeln, starren, kleben, 

Und seiner Unersattlichkeit 

Soil Speis' und Trank voT gier'gen Lippen schweben; 

Er wird Erquickung sich umsonst erflehn, 

Und hatt' er sich auch nicht dem Teufel iibergeben, 

Er mtisste doch zu Grunde gehn !] 



Faust, however, is proof against the allurements which the 
Devil offers. It is characteristic of him that in Auerbach's cellar 
among the drunken students he takes no part whatever in their 
jokes or the buffooneries of Mephistopheles. Apparently he is 
bored, for the only uttei-ance he makes in this scene, besides a 
word of greeting when he enters, is the sentence addressed to 

I now desire to leave this place. 
[Ich hatte Lust, nun abzufahren.] 

By Franz Simm. 

Mephistopheles had expected to amuse Faust. He says : 

Before all else, I bring thee hither 
Where boon companions meet together, 
To let thee see how smooth life runs away, 
Here, for the folk, each day's a holiday: 
With little wit, and ease to suit them, 
'■ They whirl in narrow, circling trails, 
Like kittens playing with their tails ; 
And if no headache persecute them, 
So long the host may credit give. 
They merrily and careless live. 

[Ich muss Dich nun vor alien Dingen 

In lustige Gesellschaft bringen, 

Damit Du siehst wie leicht sich's leben lasst. 





After P. Cornelius. 


Dem Volke hier wircl jeder Tag eiii Fest. 
Mit wenig Witz und viel Behagen 
Dreht Jeder sich im engen Zirkeltanz, 
Wie junge Katzeii mit dem Schwanz. 
Wenn sie nicht iiber Kopfweh klagen, 
So lang' der Wirth nur weiter borgt, 
Sind sie vergniigt luid tinbesorgt.] 

But Mephistopheles has misjudged Faust's taste. When the 
students become aggressive in their intoxication, Mephistopheles 
bewilders them by hallucinations and leaves the wineshop with 
his companion. The drunkards recover from their confusion 
and one of them swears : 

I saw him with these eyes upon a wine cask riding 
Out of the cellar door just now. 

[Ich hab' ihn selbst hinaus zur Kellerthiire 
Auf einem Fasse reiten sehn.] 

Mephistopheles continues to misjudge the wants of Faust. 
In the second part he addresses him with the question : 

So thou wilt glory earn? 

[Und also willst du Ruhm verdienen?] 

but Faust answers : 

The Deed is everything, the glory naught. 
[Die That ist alles, nichts der Ruhm.] 

And what Faust thinks of pleasure appears from his estimate 
of the young emperor who thinks only of enjoyment when he 
should attend to the duties of government. 

Says Mephistopheles : 

Thou knowest him. The while we twain, beside him. 
With wealth illusive bounteously supplied him, 
Then all the world was to be had for pay; 
For as a youth he held imperial sway, 
And he was pleased to try it, whether. 
Both interests would not smoothly pair, 
Since 't were desirable and fair 
To govern end enjoy, together. 

316 GOETHE. 

[Du kennst ihn ja. Als wir ihn unterhielten, 

Ihm falschen Reichthum in die Hande spielten, 

Da war die ganze Welt ihm feil. 

Denn jung ward ilim der Thron zu Theil, 

Und ihtn beliebt' es, falsch zu schliessen, 

Es konne wol ziisamnien gehii 

Und sei recht wiinschenswerth und schon, 

Regieren und zugleich geniessen.] 

Faust answers : 

A mighty error! He who would command 
Must in commanding find his highest blessing: 
Then, let his breast with force of will expand, 
But what he wills, be past another's guessing! 
What to his faithful he hath whispered, that 
Is turned to act, and men amaze thereat: 
Thus will he ever be the highest-placed 
And worthiest ! — Enjoyment makes debased. 

[Ein grosser Irrthum ! Wer befehleii soil. 

Muss im Befehlen Seligkeit empfinden; 

Ihm ist die Brust von hohem Willen voU, 

Doch was er will, es darf s kein Mensch ergrimden. 

Was er den Treusten in das Ohr geraunt, 

Es ist gethan, und alle Welt erstaunt. 

So wird er stets der AUerhochste sein, 

Der Wiirdigste; — Geniessen macht gemein.] 

There is a radical difference between Faust's conception of 
the world and that of Mephistopheles. To Faust ideas, ideals, 
thoughts, aspirations and the endeavor to accomplish something, 
are all-important and the material realities are merely means to 
an end. Mephistopheles regards only the concrete material 
things as realities and has a contempt for Faust's spiritual treas- 
ures as if they were mere phantoms and bubbles of a feverish 
imagination. Thus when Faust searches for Helen, the Greek 
ideal of beauty, Mephistopheles hands him a key and instructs 
him how with its help he can find his way to the realm of the ■ 
mysterious mothers — the prototypes of all existent forms. 

Mephistopheles sends Faust into the void. The place of 
eternal ideas is to him nothing. It has no bodily reality, it is 
nothing tangible, not concrete material. It is a region for which 


Mephistopheles expresses a very strong dislike. But Faust feels 
at home and at once understands the situation. He says : 

In this thy Naught I hope to find the All. 

[In deincm Nichts hoff' ich das All zu finden.] 

What is real to Mephistopheles is merely a transient symbol 
to Faust, and what is Faust's All, is Naught to Mephistopheles, 
an empty void, something non-existent. 

Here in a mystical allegory Goethe symbolizes the existence 
of an ideal realm v^^hich to the materialist is a mere phantom, 
but the poet does not fail to criticize also the fantastic aberra- 


tions of science which are commonly pursued with noisy preten- 
sions by immature naturalists and pseudo-scientists. Faust does 
not attempt the artificial procreation of a human organism. It 
is Wagner, his former famulus and now his successor at the' 
university, who is bent on producing an homunculus. Mephis- 
topheles surprises him in his laboratory and Wagner with hushed 
voice urges him not to disturb the work. 

In contrast to the extravagances of natural science, Goethe 
pillories the faults of the philosophy of his age in the bacca- 
laureus, a young scholar who in the exuberance of his youth 
thinks that in himself is reached the climax of the world's evo- 



lution ; that with his appearance on earth day dawned and before 
him there was chaos and night. He says to Mephistopheles : 

This is Youth's noblest calling and most fit ! 
The world was not, ere I created it; 
The sun I drew from out the orient sea ; 
The moon began her changeful course with me; 

By Franz Simm. 

The Day put on his shining robes, to greet me; 

The Earth grew green, and burst in flower to meet me, 

And when I beckoned, from the primal night 

The stars unveiled their splendors to my sight. 

Who, save myself, to you deliverance brought 

From commonplaces of restricted thought? 



I, proud and free, even as dictates my mind,. 
Follow witli joy the inward light I find, 
And speed along, in mine own ecstasy. 
Darkness behind, and Glory leading me ! 

[Dies ist der Jugend edelster Beruf! 

Die Welt, sie war nicht, eh ich sie erschuf ; 

Die Sonne fiihrt' ich aus dem Meer herauf; 

Mit mir begann der Mond des Wechsels Lauf ; 

Da schmiickte sich der Tag auf meinen Wegen, 

Die Erde griinte, bliihte mir entgegen. 

Auf meinen Wink in jener ersten Nacht 


The Baccalaureus explains his philosophy to Mephistopheles. 
By Franz Sirarn. 

Entfaltete sich aller Sterne Pracht. 

War, ausser mir, entband Euch aller Schranken 

Philisterhaft einklemmender Gedanken? 

Ich aber frei, wie mir's im Geiste spricht, 

Verfolge froh mein innerliches Licht 

Und wandle rasch, im eigensten Entziicken, 

Das Helle vor mir, Finsterniss im Rucken.] 

Mephistopheles is dumbfounded at the conceit of this im- 
mature youth; but the Devil has seen other generations which 
had behaved no better, and says to himself : 

Yet even from him we're not in special peril; 
He will, ere long, to other thoughts incline: 
The must may foam absurdly in the barrel, 
Nathless it turns at last to wine. 

320 GOETHE. 

[Doch sind wir audi mit diesem nicht gefahrdet, 
In wenig Jahren wird es anders sein : 
Wenn sich der Most auch ganz absurd gebardet, 
Es giebt zuletzt doch noch 'ii Wein.] 

Faust is absolutely fearless and beyond the temptations of 
vanity and self-indulgence; he lives in his ideals only and finds 
delight in work. His highest ambition is to create nevir oppor- 
tunities for his fellow men. He recovers a kingdom from the 
sea, not to rule there as a sovereign7 but to be a leader who would 
teach a free people to work out their own salvation, and a man 
of this stamp cannot be lost. As the Dutch have wrested great 
districts of new land from the ocean by damming the floods with 
dykes, so Faust succeeds in retrieving a large tract of swamps 
by drainage. This is true happiness which he procures for him- 
self and others, yet even this happiness is not indulgence; it is a 
constant struggle and must be bought by unceasing exertion. 
Faust himself grows old, and the constant worry for the success 
of his plans deprives him of his sight. Care, in the shape of a 
haggard witch, appears in his home; she breathes upon his eyes 
and an eternal night sinks upon him. Still more urgently does 
he follow his spiritual vision and push the work forward so that 
it may be completed. But while he imagines that the laborers 
are throwing up dykes and laying the drains, the Lemures, the 
ugly spirits of decay, are digging his grave. Faust feels elated 
at the thought of his plan's completion. He says : 

To many millions let me furnish soil, 
Though not secure, yet free to active toil; 
Green, fertile fields, where men and herds go forth 
At once, with comfort, on the newest Earth, 
And swiftly settled on the hill's firm base. 
Created by the bold, industrious race. 
A land like Paradise here, round about : 
Up to the brink the tide may roar without, 
And though it gnaw, to burst with force the limit. 
By common impulse all unite to hem it. 
Yes ! to this thought I hold with firm persistence ; 
The last result of wisdom stamps it true : 
He only earns his freedom and existence. 
Who daily conquers them anew. 


Thus here, by dangers girt, shall glide away 

Of childhood, manhood, age, the vigorous day: 

And such a throng I fain would see,— 

Stand on free soil among a people free ! 

Then dared I hail the Moment fleeing: 

"Ah, still delay — thou art so fair!" 

The traces cannot, of mine earthly being. 

In ffions perish, — they are there! — 

In proud fore-feeling of such lofty bliss, 

I now enjoy the highest Moment,— this ! 

[ErofTn' ich Raume vielen Millionen, 

Nicht sicher zwar, doch thiitig frei zu wohnen : 

Griin das Gefilde, fruchtbar; Mensch und Heerde 

Sogleich behaglich auf der neusten Erde, 

Gleich angesiedelt an des Hiigels Kraft, 

Den aufgewiilzt kiihn-ems'ge Volkerschaft. 

Im Innern hier ein paradiesisch Land, 

■Da rase draussen Fluth bis auf zum Rand, 

Und wie sie nascht, gewaltsam einzuschliessen, 

Gemeindrang eilt, die Liicke zu verschliessen. 

Ja ! Diesem Sinne bin ich ganz ergeben. 

Das ist Der Weisheit letzter Schluss : 

Nur der verdient sich Freiheit wie das Leben, 

Der taglich sie erobern muss. 

Und so verbringt, umrungen von Gefahr, 

Hier Kindheit, Mann und Greis sein tuchtig Jahr. 

Solch ein Gewimmel mocht' ich sehn, 

Auf freiem Grund mit freiem Volke stehn. 

Zum Augenblicke diirft' ich sagen : 

Verweile doch ! Du bist so schon ! 

Es kann die Spur von meinen Erdentagen 

Nicht in Aeonen untergehn ! — 

Im Vorgefuhl von solchem hohen Gliick 

Geniess' ich jetzt den hochsten Augenblick] 

Now for the first time Faust feels true enjoyment and would 
hold on to that moment of satisfaction. But this is not a joy 
which the Devil can give; it is the purest joy of ideal aspiration 
and indeed to Mephistopheles it appears poor and empty. This 
joy is not of the earth; it is no indulgence in what Mephistopheles 
calls the realities of life; it is purely ideal, not material, and 
ideals to the worldly minded are mere phantoms, "shifting 

Mephistopheles adds this comment: 

322 GOETHE. 

No joy could sate him, and suffice no bliss ! 
To catch but shifting shapes was his endeavor: 
The latest, poorest, emptiest Moment — this — 
He wished to hold it fast forever. 

[Ihn sattigt keine Lust, ihm gniigt kein Gliick, 
So buhlt er fort nach wechselnden Gestalten ; 
Den letzten, schlechten,' leeren Augenblick, 
Der Arme wiinscht ihn festzuhalten.] 

Now follows the scene in which Mephistopheles loses his 
prize, and here it seems to me Goethe has failed to bring out the 
meaning of Faust's salvation. Instead of rescuing Faust by the 
intrinsic worth of his character and the nobility of his endeavor, 
Goethe makes Mephistopheles lose his forfeit by mere negligence 
on account of a sudden sentiment of lust that is aroused in him 
by the sight of angels. 

The Lemures are at work digging the grave and Mephistoph- 
eles calls all the devils of hell to his aid. He exclaims with some 
frantic whirling gestures of conjuration ; 

Come on ! Strike up the double quick, anew. 

With straight or crooked horns, ye gentlemen infernal, 

Of the old Devil-grit and kernel. 

And bring at once the Jaws of Hell with you ! 

[Nur frisch heran ! Verdoppelt Euren Schritt, 
Ihr Herrn vom graden, Herrn vom krummen Home, 
Vom alten Teufelsschrot und -Korne, 
Bringt Ihr zugleich den Hollenrachen mit.] 

At the same time angels appear scattering roses and before 
them the devils retire. Mephistopheles only remains, but the 
sight of the angelic figures turns his head and he falls in love 
with them. He says : 

The sight of them once made my hatred worse. 
Hath then an alien force transpierced my nature? 
What now restrains me, that I dare not curse ? — 
And if I take their cozening bait so, 
Who else, henceforth, the veriest fool will be? 
The stunning fellows, whom I hate so. 
How very charming they appear to me ! — 
Tell me, sweet children, ere I miss you. 
Are ye not of the race of Lucifer ! 


You are so fair, forsooth, I'd like to kiss you ; 

It seems to me as if ye welcome were. 

I feel as comfortable and as trustful. 

As though a thousand times ere this we'd met ! 

So surreptitiously catlike— lustful : 

With every glance ye're fairer, fairer yet. 

O, nearer come,— O, grant me one sweet look ! 


We come! Why shrink? Canst not our presence brook? 
Now we approach : so, if thou canst, remain ! 
{The Angels, coming forward, occupy the whole space.) 


{who is crowded into the proscenium) . 
Us, Spirits damned, you brand with censure. 
Yet you are wizards by indenture ; 
For man and woman, luring, you enchain. 

[Der Anblick war mir sonst so feindlich scharf. 

Hat mich ein Fremdes durch und durchgedrungen ? 

Ich mag sie gerne sehn, die allerliebsten Jungen ; 

Was halt mich ab, dass ich nicht fluchen darf? — 

Und wenn ich mich bethoren lasse, 

Wer heisst denn kiinftighin der Thor? — 

Die Wetterbuben, die ich basse, 

Sie kommen mir doch gar zu lieblich vor ! — 

Ihr schonen Kinder, lasst mich wissen, 

Seid ihr nicht auch von Lucifer's Geschlecht? 

Ihr seid so hiibsch, fiirwabr ich mocht Euch kiissen, 

Mir ist's, als kommt Ihr eben recht. 

Es ist mir so behaglich, so natiirlich, 

Als hatt' ich Euch schon tausendmal gesehn ; 

So heimlich-katzchenhaft begierlich ; 

Mit jedem Blick auf's Neue schoner, schon. 

O nabert Euch, o gonnt mir einen Blick ! 


Wir kommen schon, warum weichst Du zuriick ? 

Wir nahern uns, und wenn Du kannst, so bleib ! 

{Die Engel nehmen, umhersiehend, den ganscn Raum ein.) 


{der ins Proscenium gedrangt wird.) 
Ihr scheltet uns verdammte Geister 
Und seid die wahren Hexenmeister ; 
Denn Ihr verfiihret Mann und Weib. — ] 

Thus Mephistopheles is defrauded and he has only himself 

324 GOETHE. 

to blame. It is no merit of Faust's that saves Faust's soul. The 
scene concludes thus : 

(The angels rise, bearing away the ImmortaP of Faust.) 
MEPHiSTOPKELES (looking ai'ound him). 
But why they suddenly away are hieing? 
These pretty children take me by surprise ! 
They with their booty heavenwards are flying ; 
Thence from this grave they take with them their prize. 
My rare, great treasure they have peculated : 
The lofty soul, to me hypothecated. 
They 've rapt away from me in cunning wise. 
But unto whom shall I appeal for justice? 
Who would secure to me mjr well-earned right? 
Tricked so in one's old days, a great disgust is ; 
And I deserve it, this infernal spite. 
I've managed in a most disgraceful fashion ; 
A great investment has been thrown away : 
By lowest lust seduced, and senseless passion. 
The old, case-hardened Devil went astray. 
And if, from all this childish-silly stuff 
His shrewd experience could not wrest him, 
So is, forsooth, the folly quite enough. 
Which, in conclusion, hath possessed him. 

[(Die Engel erheben sich, Faustens Unsterbliches entfUhrend.) 
MEPHiSTOPHELES (sich umsehcnd). 
Doch wie? — Wo sind sie hingezogen? 
Unmund'ges Volk, Du hast mich iiberrascht, 
Sind mit der Beute himmelwarts entflogen; 
Drum haben sie an dieser Gruft genascht! 
Mir ist ein grosser, einz'ger Schatz entwendet. 
Die hohe Seele, die sich mir verpfandet. 
Die haben sie mir pfiffig weggepascht. 
Bei wem soil ich mich nun beklagen? 
Wer schafft rair mein erworbnes Recht? 
Du bist getJiuscht in Deinen alten Tagen, 
Du bast's verdient, es geht Dir grimmig schlecht. 
Ich habe schimpflich missgehandelt, 
Ein grosser Aufwand, schmahlich, ist verthan; 
Gemein Geliist, absurde Liebschaft wandelt 
Den ausgepichten Teufel an. 
Und hat mit diesem kindisch-toUen Ding 
Der Klugerfahrne sich beschaftigt. 
So ist furwahr die Thorheit nicht gering, 
Die seiner sich am Schluss bemachtigt.] 

' The original manuscript reads here "Faust's entelechy," which to Goethe 
meant the same as "Faust's Immortal." See above, p. 234. 


This conclusion may be criticized for two reasons. First, 
according to Goethe's own plan, Faust must be saved not through 
a fault of Mephistopheles, but through his own merit; and 
secondly, the fault which Goethe here imputes to Mephistopheles 
is not in keeping with his character. Mephistopheles is not the 
Devil of lust. He is the malevolent intriguer and, with all his 
devilish features, would never be silly enough to be so easily 
duped. So we say that the passage under consideration is out 
or harmony with the whole. The Devil should have his due. 

We would propose to change the scene thus : As soon as Faust 
is dead Mephistopheles summons his army (as Goethe has it) 
to make good his claims ; the devils claw the body of Faust with- 
out any interference on the pail of the angels, and while the 
devils try to snatch it away, the remains fall to pieces. We see 
the body crumble to dust, the skull and the bones fall down and 
the vestments turn to rags. The Lemures would sweep the 
remains into the grave and now would be the time for Mephis- 
topheles to philosophize on the vanity of life. This then is the 
fruit of all his labors, and here he holds his prize to the attain- 
ment of which he has devoted so many years. What is Faust 
now? A heap of bones and ashes, and his life is past as if it 
never had been. The Lemures shout in chorus: "It is past." 
So also thinks Mephistopheles, and Goethe rightly puts these 
words into his mouth : 

— Past! a stupid word. 
If past, then why? 

Past and pure Naught, complete monotony! 
What good for us, this endlessly creating? — 
What is created then annihilating? 
"And now it's past!" Why read a page so twisted? 
'Tis just the same as if it ne'er existed, 
Yet goes in circles round as if it had, however: 
I'd rather choose, instead, the Void forever." 

[Vorbei ! Ein dummes Wort. 
Waruni vorbei? 

Vorbei und reines Nichts, volkommnes Einerlei ! 
Was soil uns denn das ew'ge Schaffen! 
Geschafifenes zu nichts hinwegzuraffen ! 
"Da ist's vorbei I" Was ist daran zu lesen ? 
Es ist so gut, als war' es nicht gewesen, 

326 GOETHE. 

Und treibt sich doch im Kreis, als wenn es ware. 
Ich liebte mir dafiir das Ewig-Leere.] 

While Mephistopheles in his reaHsm dings to the bodily re- 
mains of Faust the angels appear, and in the place where his 
body had fallen to pieces there rises the transfigured effigy of 
Faust, the Faust idea, that spiritual self of him which survives 
death. It is his life's work and the blessings which he leaves to 
posterity, symbolized by his personality. Mephistopheles has 
taken the mortal remains, they are his share which shall not be 
taken from him; he overlooks the immortal part of Faust's 
being, for he is spiritually blind and does not value it. Thus 
Mephistopheles has only helped to free the imrriortal soul from 
the dross of all its mortal ingredients, and now the angels hail 
the transfigured Faust and lift him up to his home, whither the 
ideal of womanhood, das ewig Weihliche, has ever since been 
leading him, there to be united with all that is beautiful, good, 
and true, — with God. 

This is the meaning of the Chorus MysticuS'i^ 

Things unremainable [Alles Vergangliche 

But as symbols are meant: 1st nur ein Gleichniss; 

The unattainable Das Unzulangliche, 

Here grows to event : Hier wird's Ereigniss ; 

Ineffable though be the good, Das Unbeschreibliche, 

Here it is done: Hier ist es gethan ; 

Eternal womanhood Das Ewig-Weibliche 

Leads upward and on! Zieht uns hinan.] 

That eternal home which to Mephistopheles is a nonentity 
is after all the only true existence worthy of the name; all so- 
called realities are merely transient symbols of the eternal in 
which everything finds its final fulfilment and completion, and to 
find this goal is salvation. 

* While in all other quotations from "Faust" we have used Bayard Taylor's 
version with very slight deviations, we prefer here to replace his lines by our 


GOETHE does not belong to the eccentric class of poets. 
His genius is not abnormal, but proves him to be an all 
around man. He was a man of affaii's in the world, his duties 
consisting in the administration of a small territory, one of the 
little duchies of Thuringia. Hence it is natural that Goethe 
should be richer in thoughts of worldly wisdom than any other 
poet from earliest antiquity down to the present time. 

We present the following collection of terse epigrams and 
observations in poetical form. 

A hundred years thou mayest worship fire, — 
Fall in but once, thou art consumed entire. 

[Anbete du das Feuer hundert Jahr, 

Dann fall' hinein ! Dich f risst's mit Haut und Haar. ] 

Were to the sun not kin our eyne, 

They ne'er could see the sun's fair beam, 

Lay not in us a power divine. 

Of the divine how could we dream? 

[War' nicht das Auge sonnenhaft. 

Die Sonne konnt' es nie erblicken ; 
Lag' nicht in uns des Gottes eigne Kraft, 

Wie konnt' uns Gottliches entziicken!] 

In explanation of this idea, we might as well state the reverse 
thought. Man— a rational being with moral aspirations, who 
acts with a purpose, who .plans designs and follows ideals of 

328 GOETHE. 

attaining higher and higher aims — exists, and we call that fea- 
ture of being which we admire noble and good. We do not 
regard man's existence as an accidental by-play of wild forces, 
but come to the conclusion that he has originated as a necessary 
phase in evolution according to the natural laws of the universe. 
As the eye originates according to the nature of ether waves, 
man with his aspirations corresponds to the constitution of the 
cosmic order. The divinity of the former suggests the divinity 
of the latter. If the ideal man appears to us like a god, super- 
human and divine, we feel justified in designating the cause 
that has produced him as the Godhead. 

Who himself and others knows 
Here is rightly guided; 
Orient and Occident 
Are no more divided. 

Proper 'tis through both to roam. 
And in either feel at home. 
Moving 'tween the East and West, 
Surely will with all be best. 

[Wer sich selbst und Andre kennt, 
Wird auch hier erkennen : 
Orient und Occident 
Sind nicht mehr zu trenneh. 

Sinnig zwischen beiden Welten 
Sich zu wiegen lass' ich gelten ; 
Also zwischen Ost und Westen 
Sich bewegen, sei's zum Besten!] 

God owns all the Orient 

God owns all the Occident, 

Both of North and South the lands 

Peaceful rest in God's good hands. 


[Gottes ist der Orient, 
Gottes ist der Occident, 
Nord- und siidliches Gelande 
Ruht im Frieden seiner Hande.] 

As any one is [Wie Einer ist, 
So is his God, So ist sein Gott ; 

And thus is God Darum ward Gott 
Oft strangely odd. So oft zum Spott.] 

Why do you scoff and scout [Was soil mir euer Hohn 
About the All and One ? Ueber das All und Eine ? 

The professor's a person no Der Professor ist eine Person, 
doubt, Gott ist keine.] 

God is none. 

A quiet scholar a party attended 
And home in silence his steps he wended. 
When asked how he was pleased, he said, 
"Were people books, those stayed unread." 

[Aus einer grossen Gesellschaft heraus 

Ging einst ein stiller Gelehrter zu Haus. 

Man fragte: "Wie seid ihr zufrieden gew'esen?" 

"Waren's Biicher," sagt' er, "ich wiird' sie nicht lesen."] 

"The Devil take the human race, 

They drive me mad for anger!" 

So I decided seriously 

Will meet none any more ! 

Will leave those folks all to themselves. 

To God and to — the devil. 

Yet scarce I see a human face 

But I fall in love with it. 



[Der Teufel hoi' das Menschengeschlecht ! 

Man mochte rasend werden. 

Da nehm' ich mir so eif rig vor : 

Will Niemand weiter sehen, 

Will all das Volk Gott und sich selbst 

Und dem Teufel iiberlassen! 

Und kaum seh' ich ein Menschengesicht, 

So hab' ich's wieder lieb.] 





kt. ^ 

licgt; J^ 
Diiigen, ^j| 
en Stern, 1 
^in^cn 1 
11 f^crm. 1 



5 \ 

•^ X^ 

When in the infinite appeareth 

The same eternal repetition, 

When in harmonious coalition 
A mighty dome its structure reareth ; 
A rapture thrills through all existence, 

All stars, or great or small, are blessed. 
Yet are all strife and all resistance 

In God, the Lord, eternal rest. 


I know that naught belongs to me 
Except the thought that light and free 
Out of my soul is flowing; 
Alst) of joy each moment rare 
Which my good fortune kind and fair 
Upon me is bestowing; 

[Ich weiss, dass mir nichts angehort 
Als der Gedanke, der ungestort 
Aus meiner Seele will fliessen, 
Und jeder giinstige Augenblick, 
Den mich ein liebendes Geschick 
Von Grund aus lasst geniessen.] 

If not of this rule possessed [Und so lang du das nicht hast, 

Of dying and becoming, Dieses Stirb und Werde, 

Thou art but a sorry guest Bist du mir ein triiber Gast 

In a glad world roaming. Auf der schonen Erde.] 

"Hast immortality in mind. 
Wilt thou thy reasons give ?" 
"The most important reason is, 
We can't without it live." 

["Du hastUnsterblichkeit im Sinn-; 
Kannst du uns deine Griinde nennen?" 
"Gar wohl! Der Hauptgrund Hegt darin, 
Dass wir sie nicht entbehren konnen."] 

We are a fragment of this world, and in order to understand 
ourselves we must look beyond the limits of our existence, we 
must see the causes that produced us and the effects in which 
we continue. The nature of existence is a constant change, a 
dying off and a new becoming. So long as we have not entered 
into the spirit of life, we are not fit to live, and our belief in 
immortality is ultimately based on our need to comprehend our 
existence as a part of the infinite whole. 



Time mows roses and thorns amain ; 
She sows them and mows them again and again. 
* * * 

"Know thou thyself!" How does self-knowledge pay? 
Know I myself, / pass at once away. 

[Erkenne dich! Was hab' ich da fiir Lohn? 
Erkenn' ich mich, so muss ich gleich davon.] 


"Why keepest thou aloof? Why lonely 
Art from our views thou turning?" 

I do not write to please you only, 
You must be learning! 

["Warum willst du dich von uns alien 
Und unsrer Meinung entfernen?" 

Ich schreibe nicht euch zu gefallen; 
Ihr sollt was lernen.J 


Many cooks will spoil the broth, 
Beware of servants' impositions; 

We are already, by my troth, 
A hospital of sick physicians. 

A fellow says : "I own no school nor college ; 
No master lives whom I acknowledge; 
And pray don't entertain the thought 
That from the dead I e'er learned aught." 
This if I rightly understand 
Means, "I'm a fool by my own command." 

334 GOETHE. 

[Ein Quidam sagt: "Icli bin von keiner Schule; 
Kein Meister lebt, mit dem ich buhle ; 
Auch bin ich weit davon entfernt, 
Dass ich von Todten was gelernt." 
Das heisst, wenn ich ihn recht verstand : 
"Ich bin ein Narr auf eigne Hand."] 

* * * 

A lie when spoken, when written too, 
Will poison to others prove and to you. 

[Habt ihr gelogen in Wort und Schrift, 
Andern ist es und euch ein Gift] 

One could a well-bred child beget. 
But parents are not well-bred yet. 

[Man konnt' erzogne Kinder gebaren, 
Wenn die Eltern erzogne waren.J 

Who plays with life, will never find his way; 

Who won't command himself a slave remains for aye. 

[Wer mit dem Leben spielt kommt nie zurecht ; 
Wer sich nicht selbst befiehlt, bleibt immer Knecht.J 

When head and heart are busy, say 
What better can be found ? 
Who neither loves nor goes astray, 
Were better under ground. 

[Wenn dir's in Kopf und Herzen schwirrt. 
Was willst du Bessres haben? 
Wer nicht mehr liebt und nicht mehr irrt, 
Der lasse sich begraben.] 


Wouldst thou ever onward roam? 
Lo, the good lies very near. 
Learn happiness to seize at home, 
For happiness is always here. 

[Willst du immer weiter schweifen? 
Sieh, das Gute liegt so nah. 
Lerne nur das Gliick ergreifen, 
Denn das Gliick ist immer da.] 

If yestreen's account be clear, 
Art thou brave to-day and free. 
Meet thy morrow with good cheer : 
Surely t'will auspicious be. 

tfU^ -ti** ^^€trt ^^Mf **^ Jj^trt. . 



The world has not been made of mush and pies; 
So live not in Schlaraffian paradise. 
There are hard bites, chew bit for bit; 
Digest your food or choke on it. 

[Die Welt ist nicht aus Brod und Mus geschaffen; 
Drum haltet euch nicht wie Schlaraffen ; 
Harte Bissen gibt es zu kauen, 
Ihr miisst erwiirgen oder verdauen.] 

336 GOETHE. 

Would from tradition break away, 

Original I'd be! 
The feat so grand, to my dismay, 

Greatly discom^fits me. 
The honor of being autochthon 

Would be my great ambition, 
But strange enough, I have to own, 

I am myself tradition. 

[Gern war' ich Ueberliefrung los 
Und ganz original; 
Doch ist das Unternehmen gross 
Und fvihrt in manche Qual. 
Alt Autochthone rechnet' ich 
Es mir zur hochsten Ehre, 
Wenn ich nicht gar zu wunderlich 
Selbst Ueberliefrung ware.] 

When eagerly a child looks round. 

In his father's, house is shelter found. 

His ear, beginning to understand,. 

Imbibes the speech of his native land. 

Whatever his own experiences are. 

He hears of other things afar. 

Example affects him ; he grows strong and steady 

Yet finds the world complete and ready. 

This is prized, that praised with much ado; 

He fain would be somebody too. 

How he. can work and woo, how fight and frown. 

Everything has been written down. 

Nay, worse, it has appeared in print. 

The youth is baffled but takes the hint. 

It dawns on him, now, more and more 

He is what others have been before. 

[Wenn Kindesblick begierig schaut, 
Er findet des Vaters Haus gebaut; 


Und wenn das Ohi- sich erst vertraut, 
Ihm tont der Muttersprache Laut ; 
Gewahrt er diess und jenes nah, 
Man fabelt ihnl, was fern geschah, 
Umsittigt ihn, wachst er heran : 
Er findet eben alles gethan; 
Man riihmt ihm diess, man preist ihm das : 
Er ware gar gern auch etwas. 
Wie er soil wirken, schaffen, lieben, 
Das steht ja alles schon geschrieben 
Und, was noch schlimmer ist, gedruckt. 
Da steht der junge Mensch verduckt 
Und endlich wird ihm offenbar : 
Er sei nur was ein andrer war.] 

War waged the angels for the right, 
But they were beaten in every fight. 
Yea, everything went topsy turvy 
Because the Devil was quite nervy. 
He kept the field despite their prayer 
That God might save them from despair. 
Quoth Logos, who since eternity 
Had clearly seen it so must be, 
"Ye angels need not be too civil, 
But fight like Satan, like the devil ! 
Who wins the day, must struggle hard; 
Do yfi your praying afterward." 
The maxim needed no repeating 
And lo ! the Devil got his beating. 
'Twas done; the angels all were glad — 
To be a devil is not so bad. 

[Die Engel stritten fiir uns Gerechte, 
Zogen den Kiirzern in jedem Gef echte ; 
Da stiirzte denn Alles driiber und drunter, 
Dem Teufel gehorte der ganze Plunder. 
Nun ging es an ein Beten und Flehen ! 

338 GOETHE. 

Gott ward bewegt herein zu sehen. 

Spricht Logos, dem die Sache klar 

Von Ewigkeit her gewesen war: 

Sie sollten sich keineswegs geniren, 

Sich auch einmal als Teufel geriren, 

Auf jede Weise den Sieg erringen 

Und hierauf das Tedeum singen. 

Das Hessen sie sich nicht zweimal sagen, 

Und siehe, die Teufel waren geschlagen. 

Natiirlich fand man hinterdrein, 

Es sei recht hiibsch, ein Teufel zu sein.J 

You have the Devil underrated. 
I cannot yet persuaded be! 
A fellow who is all-behated, 
Must something be. 

[Ich kann mich nicht bereden lassen, 
Macht mir den Teufel nur nicht klein : 
Ein Kerl, den alle Menschen hassen, 
Der muss was sein!] 

To Him who from eternity, self-stirred. 
Himself hath made by his creative word; 
To Him supreme who maketh faith to be, 
Trust, hope, love, power, and endless energy; 
To Him who, seek to name him as we will, 
Unknown within himself abideth still. 

— Tr. by I. A. Symonds. 

[Im Namen dessen, der Sich selbst erschuf. 
Von Ewigkeit in schaffendem Beruf ; 
In Seinem Namen, der den Glauben schafft, 
Vertrauen, Liebe, Thatigkeit und Kraft; 
In Jenes Namen, der so oft genannt, 
Dem Wesen nach blieb immer unbekannt.] 


What were a God who from the outside stirred 
So that the world around his finger whirred? 
He from within the universe must move, 
Nature in Him and Him in nature prove. 
Thus all that lives and moves within his bliss 
Will ne'er his power and ne'er his spirit miss. 

[Was war' ein Gott, der nur von aussen stiesse, 
Im Kreis das All am Finger laufen liesse! 
Ihm ziemt's die Welt im Innern zu bewegen, 
Natur in Sich, Sich in Natur zu hegen, 
So dass, was in Ihm lebt und webt und ist, 
Nie Seine Kraft, nie Seinen Geist vermisst.J 

The soul of man, too, is a universe; 
Whence follows it that race with race concurs 
In naming all it knows of good and true, 
God — yea, its own God — and with honor due 
Surrenders to His sway both earth and heaven. 
Fears Him, and loves, where place for love is given. 

— Tr. by J. A. Symonds, 

[Im Innern ist ein Universum auch: 
Daher der Volker loblicher Gebrauch, 
Dass Jeglicher das Beste, was er kennt,, 
Er Gott, ja seinen Gott, benennt, 
Ihm Himmel und Erden iibergiebt, 
Ihn fiirchtet, und wo moglich liebt.] 

clarchen's song. 

Gladness [Freudvoll 

And sadness Und leidvoll, 

And pensiveness blending; Gedankenvoll sein. 

Yearning Langen 

And burning Und bangen 

In torment ne'er ending; In schwebender Fein, 

340 GOETHE. 

Sad unto death, Himmelhoch jauchzend, 

Proudly soaring above; Zum Tode betriibt, 

Happy alone Gliicklich allein 

Is the soul filled with love. 1st die Seele, die liebt.] 


What makes time short to me? [Was verkiirzt mir die Zeit? 

Activity ! Thatigkeit ! 

What makes it spiritless? Was macht sie unertraghch 

Idleness! lang? 

What brings into debt? Miissiggang! 

To delay and forget! Was bringt in Schulden? 
What makes us succeed ? Harren und Dulden ! 

Decision with speed! Was macht gewinnen? 
How honor to gain ? Nicht lange besinnen ! 

Oneself maintain! Was bringt zu Ehren? 

Sich wehren!] 


My trust in nothing now is placed, 

Hurray ! 
So in the world true joy I taste. 

Hurray ! 
Then he who would be a comrade of mine 
Must clink his glass, and in chorus combine 
And drink his cup of wine. 

I i^cetf my trust in gold and wealth. 

Hurray ! 
But then I lost all joy and health, 

Lack-a-day ! 
Both here and there the money rolled. 
And when I had it here, behold, 
There disappeared the gold ! 


I placed my trust in women next, 

Hurray ! 
How sorely was I thereby vexed, 

Lack-a-day ! 
The False another lover sought, 
The True with tediousness was fraught, 
The Best could not be bought. 

I took to travel and started to roam. 

Hurray ! 
Cast off the habits of my home, 

Lack-a-day ! 
But not a single thing seemed good, 
The beds were bad, and strange the food. 
And I not understood. 

In honor trusted I and fame. 

Hurray ! 
Another put me straight to shame, 

Lack-a-day ! 
And when I had achieved advance 
The people looked at me askance. 
With none I had a chance. 

I placed my trust in war and fight, 

Hurray ! 
We gained full many a victory bright, 

Hurray ! 
Into the. foeman's land we crossed, 
Alas, though, at our triumph's cost! 
For there a leg I lost. 

In nothing now my trust shall be, 

Hurray ! 
And all the world belongs to me. 

Hurray ! 
And as we end our feast and strain. 

342 GOETHE. 

The cup we'll to the bottom drain ; 
Let nowhere dregs remain ! 

— After Bowring. 

[Ich hab' mein Sach auf Nichts gestellt, 

Juchhe ! 
Drum ist's so wohl mir in der Welt; 

Juchhe ! 
Und wer will mein Camerade sein, 
Der stosse mit an, der stimme mit ein, 
Bei dieser Neige Wein. 

Ich stellt' mein Sach auf Geld und Gut, 

Juchhe ! 
Daruber verier ich Freud' und Muth ; 

O weh! 
Die Miinze rollte hier und dort, 
Und hascht ich sie an einem Ort, 
Am andern war sie fort ! 

Auf Weiber stellt' ich nun mein Sach, 

Juchhe ! 
Daher mir kam viel Ungemach ; 

O weh! 
Die Falsche sucht' sich ein ander Theil, 
Die Treue macht' mir Langeweil', 
Die Beste war nicht feil. 

Ich stellt' mein Sach auf Reis' und Fahrt, 

Juchhe ! 
Und liess meine Vaterlandesart ; 

O weh! 
Und mir behagt' es nirgends recht, 
Die Kost war fremd, das Bett war schlecht, 
Niemand verstand mich recht. 

Ich stellt' mein Sach auf Ruhm und Ehr, 
Juchhe ! 


•Unci sieh! gleich hatt' ein Andrer mehr; 

O weh! 
Wie ich mich hatt' hervorgethan, 
Da sahen die Leute scheel mich an, 
Hatte Keinem recht gethan. 

Ich setzt' mein Sach auf Kampf und Krieg, 

Juchhe ! 
Und uns gelang so mancher Sieg; 

Juchhe ! 
Wir zogen in Feindes Land hinein, 
Dem Freunde sollt's nicht viel besser sein, 
Und ich verlor ein Bein. 

Nun hab' ich mein Sach auf Nichts gestellt, 

Juchhe ! 
Und mein gehort die ganze Weh; 

Juchhe ! 
Zu Ende geht nun Sang und Schmaus. 
Nur trinkt mir alle Neigen aus ; 
Die letzte muss heraus!] 


Fillest hill and vale again 

With thy misty light, 

Loosest from the world's cold chain 

All my soul to-night. 

Spreadest round me far and nigh 
Soothingly thy smile. 
From thee as from friendship's eyes 
Sorrow shrinks the while. 

Every echo thrills my heart; 
Glad and gloomy mood, 
Joy and sorrow both take part 
In my solitude. 


344 GOETHE. 

Flow along, dear river, flow! 
Joy for aye is sped; 
Glee and kisses even so, 
Yea and troth, have fled. 

Once that price did I possess 
Which I yearn for yet. 
And, alas, to my distress 
Never can forget. 

Murmur, brook, the vale along, 
Never rest nor stay. 
Murmur, whisper to my song. 
The melodious lay. 

Whether in a winter's night 
Rise thy swollen floods. 
Or in spring thou hast delight 
Watering young buds. 

Happy he who, hating none. 
Leaves the world's dull noise, 
And with trusty friend alone 
Quietly enjoys 

What, forever unexpressed. 
Hid from common sight. 
Through the mazes of the breast 
Softly steals by night. 

— Tr. after J. S. Dwight. 

[Fiillest wieder Busch und Thai 
Still mit Nebelglanz, 
Losest endlich auch einmal 
Meine Seele ganz; 

Breitest iiber mein Gefild 
Lindernd deinen Blick, 


Wie des Freundes Auge mild 
Ueber mein Geschick. 

Jeden Nachklang fiihlt mein Herz 
Froh- und triiber Zeit, 
Wandle zwischen Freud' und Schmerz 
In der Einsamkeit. 

Fliesse, fliesse, lieber Fluss! 
Nimmer werd' ich froh ! 
So verrauschte Scherz und Kuss, 
Und die Treue so. 

Ich besass es doch einmal, 
Was so kostlich ist, 
Dass man doch zu seiner Qual 
Nimmer es vergisst. 

Rausche, Fluss, das Thai entlang 
Ohne Rast und Ruh, 
Rausche, fliistre meinem Sang 
Melodien zu ! 

Wenn du in der Winternacht 
Wiithend iiberschwillst 
Oder um die Frtihlingspracht 
Junger Knospen quillst. 

Selig, wer sich von der Welt 
Ohne Hass verschliesst, 
Einen Freund am Busen halt 
Und mit ihm geniesst. 

Was von Menschen nicht gewusst, 
Oder nicht bedacht, 
Durch das Labyrinth der Brust 
Wandelt in der Nacht.J 

346 GOETHE. 

These are fair examples of Goethe's wisdom in verse. They 
could be multiplied almost without limit, and many of them have 
become household words, known in translation in the languages 
of all civilized countries. 

Goethe's greatness consists in the humanity of his character. 
He is a man, an extraordinarily normal man. He incorporates 
in himself everything human. He is a warm lover, he is a faith- 
ful friend, he is a devout worshiper. He is not a Christian, but 
he is not un-Christian or anti-Christian. On the contrary he 
exhibits an intense interest in Christian faith and doctrine. 
Nevertheless his mind has room for other religions, and his 
Christian attitude is only one among many. It is peculiar of 
Goethe that he believes in positive faith and declares that only 
the ages which stand for some definite statements of truth have 
been efficient in history ; that negativism, be it ever so ingenious, 
has never produced enduring results. 

Goethe is not a philosopher but he is a thinker. He is not 
a scientist, but has contributed some results of scientific thought 
to the history of science and foresaw the truth of evolution 
when that doctrine was still limited to a narrow circle of ad- 
vanced naturalists. He is an unbeliever, an infidel, in the view 
of orthodox theology, but a devotee of the divinity of nature, 
yea, we may say a high priest at her altar. 

This book on Goethe is not intended to exhaust the entire 
field, but to serve as an introduction to his work and to set forth 
in general outlines the significance of his world conception in the 
literature of humanity, though there are many branches of his 
literary activity which have scarcely been touched upon. If we 
have contributed our mite to increase the general comprehension 
of his thought and aspiration we deem our labors richly re- 


Italic figures denote the pages where may be found a complete translation 
followed by the German text. 

"A fellow says : 'I own no school nor 
college,' " 3SS. 

"A lie when spoken, when written 
too," 334. 

A priori, 242. 

Achim Baerwalde, A. von, 131. 

Aennchen. See "Schonkopf, Kitty." 

Agrippa von Nettesheim, 98, 289, 291. 

Ahasverus, 33. 

Aja, Frau. See "Goethe, Catharine 

Aldobrand wedding,. 158. 

Alexander VI, Pope, 287. 

"Alexis and Doris, an Idyl," 45. 

Amalia, Duchess. See "Anna Amalia, 
Duchess of Saxe-Weimar." 

America, Poem on, 60, 61; G's ref- 
erences to, 57. 

Amos, 19s. 

Animals, Metamorphosis of, 249. 

Anna Amalia, Duchess of Saxe-Wei- 
mar, 29-31, 33, 42, 109, 11S-118, IS4. 
248; Circle of, 118; Death of, S3; 
Portraits of, 116, 117. 

Annette. See "Schonkopf, Kitty." 

"Antepirrhema," 260. 

Anti-Christian, G. not, 195, 207, 346. 

Antixenions, 46. 

Apollo bust of G., 143. 

Appointments, 36. 

"Apprentice in Magic," 47. 

Ardennes, Campaign in the, 44. 

Arendswald, 64. 

Aristotle, 230, 287. 

Arndt, 55. 

Arnim, Bettina von (ncc Brentano), 
S3-S4. 70, 103, 131-134. 167; Por- 
traits of, 54, 131. 

Arnim, Ludwig Joachim (Achim) 
von. Portrait of, 130. 

"Arrogant 'tis surely not," 36. 

Art, Greek, 283 ; in Dresden, 15 ; in 
G's home, 156; Love of, 149, 168; 
Love of Gothic, 17; Taste for, in- 
fluenced by Oeser, 12. 

Artern on the Unstrut, 5, 8. 

"As any one is," 329. 

"At last before the good Lord's 
throne," 35-36. 

Atman, 229. 

Auerbach's cellar, 313, 314. 

Aufsdtse zur Literatur, gyi. 

Aurea Catena Homeri, 288. 

Autobiography. See "Truth and Fic- 

"Awakening of Epimenides," 55. 

Baccalaureus, 317-319. 

Bacon, Roger, 285. 

Baer, Karl E. von, 250. 

Bahrdt, Karl Friedrich, 33, 273, 274- 
280; Portrait of, 275. 

Banse, 13. 

Baptism, 187, 189, I97- 

Basedow, Johann Bernhard, 28; Por- 
trait of, 29. 



Beaconsfield, Lord, 4. 

Bebe. See "Schulthess, Barbara." 

Becker, 80. 

Beethoven, 165, 167-168; Sketch of, 

Behrisch, II. . 
"Bequest," 242, 243-244. 
Bernstein, Countess, 193. 
Bertuch, Friedrich Justin, 37, 123. 
"Beyond, The," 228. 
Bible, The, 193, 19S, 196. 
Bielowski, 94. 
Blackie, 288. 

Blucher, Field Marshal, 55. 
Bode, Wilhelm, aSM. 
Bodnier, Jakob, 31, 105. 
Boehme, Jacob, 289. 
Bohme, Madame, 11. 
Bohemian taste of G., 156. 
Boie, Heinrich Christian, 32. 
Bowring, Edgar Alfred, Translations 

by, 114, 213, 219)1, 220, 227, 253, 

280, 281, 342. 
Brahman view of soul, 230. 
Breitkopf, 159. 
Brentano, Bettina. See "Arnim, Bet- 

tina von." 
Brentano, Clemens, 130, 132. 
Brentano, Maximiliana. See "La 

Roche, Maximiliana." 
"Bride of Corinth," 47. 
Brion, Friederike, 18, 20, 37, 84-95 \ 

Correspondence with, 92; Falk's 

portrait of, 87 ; Handwriting of, 88 ; 

Lewes on, 87-88; Parting from, 90. 
Brosigke, 136. 

Biichner, E., Drawings by, 7, 71. 
Buddhism, 229. 
Buff, Charlotte Sophie Henriette, 24, 

Burg, 262. 
Biirger, 154. 

Burnt offerings, 180-182. 
Bury, F., Crayons by, 52, 121. 
"By the conceited man," 2y. 
Byron, Lord, 4. 

Cabala, 287. 

Caricature, A contemporary," 261 ; of 

Beethoven, 167; of G., 167; of 
Xenions, 46. 

Carus, Karl Gustav, 156. 

Carus, Paul, Goethe and Schiller's 
Xenions, 46n ; History of the Devil, 
soon; Translations by, 27,. 36, 50, 
SS-S6, 61, 68, 73, 74, 92, iiS,.i23. 
127, 130, 158, 176, 196, 201-206, '208- 
210, 212, 213, 219, 220, 223, 224-226, 
239-240, 243-244, 24S-247, 251, 256- 

257; 259-260, 268, 276-278, 280, 281, 
304, 326, 327-340. 

Castle Kochberg on the Stein estate, 

Catechism, 191. 

Categorical imperative, 242. 

Catherine, Landgravine of Hesse- 
Darmstadt, 21, 33. 

Catholic ceremonies, 187, 192. 

Charlotte. See "Buff, Charlotte." 

Chodowiecki, 26, 27. 

Christiana. See "Vulpius, Christiana." 

Cliristianity, Attitude toward, 182, 185, 
193, 195, 196, I97> 208, 213, 222, 274, 

"Clarchen's Song," 339-340. 

Classic defined, 167. 

"Clavigo," 32, 91. 

Clermont, Helene Elisabeth von. See 
"Jacobi, Betty." 

Coat of arms, 36. 

"Color, Doctrine of," 49. 

Confession, 179, 192. 

"Confessions of a Beautiful Soul," 95- 

Constantin, Duke, 115. 

Constantine, Prince, 29. 

Contrasts, 222, 223. 

"Conversations with Eckermann,'' 57; 
Quotations from, 145, 155, 156, 17S- 
176, 193, 230, 234. 

Copernicus, 242. 

Cornell Studies in Philosophy, 273. 

"Correspondence with a Child" 54, 
133; with Friederike, 92; with Ja- 
cobi, 185-187; with Karl August, 
59»; with Marianne von Willemer, 
136; with Trap, 81; with Zelter, 



Cosmopolitan character of G., 57. 
Cotta, Johann Friedrich. (Baron Cot- 

tendorf), 127, 170. 
Courtier, G. as a, 167-168. 
Craford, Alexander W., 273M. 
Creation, G's early views of, 182-184. 
"Critic, The," 280. 
Criticism, G's dislike of, 273, 274, 276 ; 

Higher, 33, 195, 222, 273, 274, 279; 

of G. by Merck, 21 ; of G. by Nico- 

lai, 28; of Homer, 273, 279; of 

Wieland, 33. 
Cupid feeding a nightingale, 114, 115. 
Curse of the French girl, 84, 86. 

Darmstadt, Trip to, 21. 

Death of G., 62-63. 

"Dedication," 121. 

Denzler-Ernst, Dr., 106. 

"Descent of Jesus Christ into Hell, 
Poetical Thoughts on the," 11, 

Deussen, Paul, 128. 

Deutsche Haus, The, 100. 

Devil, Conjuring the, 299, 300; Con- 
tract with the, 298; Verses on, 337, 

"Devil take the human race," 329. 

Diana of the Ephesians, 209. 

"Divine, The," 37, 199, 204-205, 206. 

Doctor degree, 18-19. 

Dogma, 19s, 197. 
. Dramas, Characters of, 146. 

Dresden Shoemaker, 14, 15. 

Dress, 159. 

"Drop all of transiency,'' 226. 

"Drop the transient," 227. 

Dualism, 230. 

Duisburg, 147. 

Diintzer, 94, 276. 

Dwight, J. S., 344. 

Earth-spirit, .Symbol of the,. 282. 
Eberlein, Sculpture by, 51. 
Eckermann, Johann Peter, S7. 136, 

230; Portraits of, 58, 59. See also 

"Conversations with E." 
"Effect at a Distance," 56, 239-241. 
"Egmont," 37, 38, 282. 

Ehrenbreitstein, loi. 

Einsiedel, Friedrich Hildebrand von, 

113, 114. 117- 
"Elective Affinities," 56, 147; Ottilia 

in, 133- 
Entelechy, 228, 229, 230, 231, 234, 

"Epigrams of Venice," 45. 
"Epirrhema," 259. 
Erfurt, Congress of, 55. 
"Ergo Bibamus," 57. 
Erlkonig, 48, 109. 
Eternity, 228. 
Ettersburg, 108. 
Evolution, Doctrine of, 43, 57, 251, 


Fahlmer, Johanna, (Tantchen), 82. 

Faith, 177, 178, 196; Confession of, 
197. 199- 

"Faithful Eckart," 57- 

Falk, Johann Daniel, 151, 154, 195, 
2o8«, 230, 233 ; portrait of Friede- 
rike, 87. 

Father of G. See "Goethe, Johann 

Faust legend, 285, 298, 300, 301. 

"Faust" of G : Composition, 20, 33, 
38, 56, 62, 98, 118; Gretchen in, 77; 
Significance of, 282-326; Quotations 
from, 198-199, 214-216, 220-221, 
228, 272, 273, 282, 283, 287, 289, 
291-298, 304, 30s, 306, 307-311, 312, 
313, 31S, 316, 318-319, 320-321, 322- 
324, 32s, 326. 

"Faust" of other writers, 300, 301. 

Faustus, 283. 

"Fellow Culprits," 13. 

Finances of G., 170. 

Finucci, Francesco, 40. 

"Fisher, The," 37. 

"Fisher Maiden," 108-1 11. 

"Five Things," 340. 

Flachsland, Maria Caroline, 21 ; Por- 
trait of, 20. 

Fleischer, F., 63. 

Fludd, Robert, 288. 

Frankfort, Bridge Over the Main at, 
134 ; French occupation of, 9 ; G. 



born in, i ; G. convalescent in, 95 ; 
Goethe home in, 7; Visits at, 37, 

49, 134, 136. 
Frankfurter Gelehrten-Anseiger, 32, 

Frederick the Great, 9, 30. 
Friederike. See "Brion, Friederike." 
Fritsch, Frau Henriette von, {nee 

Wolfskell), 117. 
Froitzheim, I., 94, 95. 
"From father my inheritance," 68. 
Frommel, 133. 
Froriep, A. von, 52. 

"Ganymede," 199, 203, 206. 
Garden house, G.'s, 34-36, IS9- 
Gardening, 159. 
Gellert, Christian Fiirchtegott, 11, 

162-166; Portraits of, 162, 163; 

Six songs of, 165-166. 
Genius, 146. 
Gerstenberg, 32. 
Gibson, William, Translations by, 124, 

Gickelhahn, Hut on the, 217, 218, 219. 
Giere, Julius, 24. 
Gingo tree, 222, 223. 
Gleim, Johann Ludwig, 152-155. 
Gnomide. See "Gochhausen, Frau- 

lein von. 
Gochhausen, Fraulein von, 117-118. 
"God and the Bajadere," 47. 
"God and World," 242. 
God, Conception of, 177, 180, 208; 

Description of, 220; Faust's belief 

in, 199; of Old Testament, 178, 1B5; 

Personality of, 329. 
God-Nature, Conception of, 50. 
"God, Sentiment and the World," 219. 
"Gods, Heroes and Wieland," 33. 
Goethe, Alma Sedina Henrietta Cor- 
nelia von, 65, 136. 
Goethe, August von, 42 ; Death of, 61 ; 

Marriage- of, 136 ; Portraits of, 44, 

S3, 62. 
Goethe, Catharine Elizabeth, i, 8, 

67-73; Death of, 54; Portrait of, 68. 
Goethe, Christiana. See "Vulpius, 


Goethe, Cornelia, 8, 72, 77-82, 83, 149; 

Portraits of, 77, 78. 
Goethe, Johann Caspar, i, 8; Death 

of, 38; Portrait of, 69. 
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang, Drawings 

by, 10, 39, 77, 89, 119, 122, 123, ISO, 

151, 152, 153, 263; Portraits of: By 

Bury, 52; by himself, 150; byKolbe, 

139 ; by Lips, 265 ; by Maclise, 167 ; 

by May, 67; by Rumpf, 172; by 

Schmeller, 59; by Schwerdgeburth, 

14S, 169 ; by Tischbein, 40, 41 ; by 

Trippel, 144; on the Gickelhahn, 

Goethe, Ottilie von {nee Von Pog- 

wisch), 63, 168; Portrait of, 137. 
Goethe, Walther Wolfgang, 63, 136, 

Goethe, Wolfgang Maximilian von, 

64, 136. 
Goethe Family of Frankfort, 70. 
Goethe-Gesellschaft, 149. 
Goethe Museum at Weimar {Goethe- 

Nationalmuseum) , 23, 58, 63, 97, 158. 
"Goetz von Berlichingen," 20, 28, 

91, 265, 282. 
Gore, Charles, 117. 
Gore, Elise, 117. 
Gore, Emilie, 117. 
Gossip, 175. 

Gbttinger Deutsche Museum, 32. 
Gottinger Musenalmanach, 154. 
Gottsched, Johann Christoph, 159- 

162 ; Portraits of, 161, 162. 
Graif, Anton, 109, 163. 
Grandchildren of G. in poet's house, 

"Great is Diana of the Ephesians," 

Greece, Art of, 17, 283; Civilization 

of, 229 ; Gods of, 207, 208, 222, 274 ; 

World-conception of, 204, 207. 
Gretchen, gi, 92; Connection with, 

74-77, 80; in "Faust," 77. 
Grimm, Hermann, 70. 
Grimm, Ludwig E., 262. 
Grpger, 31. 
Gustphen. See "Stolberg, Countess 

Augusta von." 



Gutermann, loi. 

Gwinner, Wilhelm von, 128. 

Hackert, Philipp, 40. 

Hadrian, 237. 

Haid, 163 ; Engraving by, 26. 

Hainbund, 31. 

Haller, Albrecht von, Portrait of, 250. 

Handwriting of Friederike, 88; of 

Goethe, 126, 335; of Schopenhauer, 

Hardenberg, Friedrich von (Novalis) 

271, 272. 
Harper's song, 37, 304. 
Hasenkampf, Rector, 147. 
"Hast immortality in mind," 331. 
Hatfield, Prof. J. T., 223, 269. 
Hayward, 289. 
"He only who knows longing's pain," 


Health of G., 143-146, I73-I74- 

Heine, Heinrich, 272; Portrait of, 

Held, L., 156. 

Helen, 283. 

Henckel von Donnersmarck, Coun- 
tess, 136. 

Herder, Johann Gottfried von, 15-16, 
28, 32, 38, los, 117, 197, 264, 26s, 
268, 272, 282, 289 ; Portrait of, 262 ; 
Portrait of his wife, 20. 

Herdt, Frau, 22. 

"Hermann and Dorothea," 45. 

Heroes of G's works, 282. 

Herzlieb, Minna, 56, 133-134; Por- 
trait of, 132. 

Heygendorf, Frau von. See "Jage- 
mann, Karoline." 

Heynacher, Max, 2iin. 

Hirzel, Solomon, 68. 

Homburg, loi. 

Homer, Aurea Catena of, 288 ; Higher 
criticism of, 273, 279. 

Homunculus, Wagner preparing his, 

317, 318- 
Horen, Die, 45, 170. 
Horn, Johann Adam, g-u; Portrait 

of, 10. 
Horoscope, cast by A. J. Pearce, 2; 

described by G., i ; described by 

R. Shirley, 2. 
Humanity of G., 142, 224, 346. 
Hummel, J. N., 226. 
"Hundred years thou mayest worship 

fire," 337. 
"Hunter's Evening Song,'' 105. 
Hypochondria, 174. 

"I know that naught belongs to me," 

"If the ass that bore the Saviour," 


"It yestreen's account be clear," 33$. 

Immortal of Faust, 234, 324. 

Immortality, Belief in, 225, 226, 229, 
234-235. 331; Egyptian, 227; Rea- 
sons for, 331. 

Improvisation, 154-155. 

"In nothing have I placed my trust," 

57, 340. 
"In the wilderness a holy man," 2I3- 


Infidel, G. an, 195, 196, 222, 346. 
"Interlude, An," 226. 
Intermaxillary bone, 57, 249, 255. 
"Iphigenia in Tauris," 37, 38, loS, 108. 
Isaiah, 195. 

"It matters not I ween," 227. 
Italy, 38, 42, 158, 237. 
Ixion, 212. 

Jacobi, Betty {nee Von Clermont), 

Jacobi, Friedrich Heinrich, 29, 82, 201, 
273; Death of, 187; Portrait of, 
186; "On Divine Things," 185-187. 

Jacobi, Max, 249. 

Jacoby, Giinther, 282. 

Jagemann, Drawing by, 264; Paint- 
ing by, 117. 

Jagemann, Karoline (Frau von Hey- 
gendorf), 127-130; Portrait of, 128. 

Jahrbuch der Schopenhauer-Gesell- 
schaft, 128. 

Jappe, Thomas H., 269. 

Jena, Battle of, 52. 

Jenaische Literaturzeitung, Die, 37. 



Jerusalem, Carl Wilhelm, 22-24, 99! 

Portrait of,. 23. 
Job, Satan accusing, 306, 307. 
"Johanna Sebus," 57. 
Joseph II, 36. 
Jung, Marianne. See "Willemer, 

Marianne von." 
Jung, Matthias, 135. 
Jung- Stilling, Johann Heinrich, 16, 

187 ; Portrait of, 18. 
Juvenilia, 77, 149, 150, 151, 152, iS3- 

Kanne, Dr. Karl, 84. 

Kant, 242. 

Karl, Duke of Brunswick, 115. 

Karl August, Duke of Saxe-Weimar, 
30, 31, 36, S8, IIS, 158, 168, 174; 
Correspondence with, S9»» ; Death of, 
61 ; Marriage of, 33 ; Portraits of, 

34. 169- 
Karl Bernhard, Duke of Saxe-Wei- 
mar, 58-60. 
Karlsbad, 38, 171, 173. 
Kauiifmann, Angelica, 40; Paintings 

by, 42, 116. 
Kaulbach, Pictures by, 25, 75, 85, 104, 

Kestner, Georg, 24, 99. 
Kestner, Johann Christian, 22, 99; 

Portrait of, 24. 
Kleist, Herr von, 25. 
Klettenberg, Susanna Catharina von, 

9S-98, 187, 193-194; Portrait of, 97. 
Klimsch, Eugen, 90. 
Klinger, Friedrich Maximilian, 32, 

26s, 301 ; Portrait of, 263. 
Klopstock, 29, 31. 
Knebel, Karl Ludwig von, 29, 228; 

Portrait of, 30. 
"Know thou thyself!" 33s. 
Koerner, 55. 
Konnecke, 3S». 
Kotzebue, 49. 
Kraus, Georg Melchior, 108, 109,115; 

Pictures by, no, iii, 112, 118. 
Kreling, A. von, 290. 
Kunstraeyer. See "Meyer, Johann 


Lamarck, 250. 

Language of G., 221. 

Laprade, de, on America, 60. 

La Roche, Maximihana, 101-102, 132; 
Portrait of, 102. 

La Roche, Sophie von, 101-103. 

Lasst fahren hin, 226-227. 

Lavater, Johann .Caspar, 17, 28, 29, 
31, 147, 193-194; Joke played on, 
274-275 ; Physio gnomische Frag- 
mente, 69 ; Portrait of, 194. 

"Leaf of Eastern tree transplanted," 

Leibnitz, 231. 

Leipsic, G. at the University of, 11- 
iS, 159, 162; Battle of, 134. 

Leipziger Licderhuch, 13. 

Lenau, 301. 

Lenz, Jacob Michael Reinhold, 16, 32, 
87, 88, 94; Portrait of, 17. 

Lerse, 16. 

Lessing, 23, 201, 264, 265, 268, 272, 

Levetzow, Friedrich von, 136. 

Levetzow, Ulrike von, 136-139; Min- 
iature of, 138. 

Lewes, George Henry, on Friederike, 

Lichtenfels, Georg Michael Frank von 
(La Roche), 102. 

Liezen-Mayer, A., 291, 294. 

"Life I never can divide," 223. 

Lili. See "Schoenemann, Anna Eli- 

"Lili's Park," 104, 105. 

"Limitations of Mankind," 37, 199, 
204, 203-206, 225. 

Lips, Johann Hieronymus, 18, 34, 194, 

Lisbon, Earthquake at, 177. 

Loewe, Karl, 47, 64; Portrait of, 48. 

Lolo, 82. 

Longfellow, 216, 218. 

Lord, William S., 269. 

Lord's Supper, 187-189, 192. 

Lotta, Werther's, 25. See also "Buff, 

Louis Bonaparte. See "Napoleon 



Louise, Duchess, 33, 38, 115. 
Lucifer, 183-184. 
Luden, Prof., 171. 
Luther, 192, 193, 283. 
Lyser, J. P., 167. 

Maclise, Daniel, 167. 

Macrocosm, Symbol of the, 287-288. 

Magic, 28s, 289, 299. 

Mahomet, 33. 

"Mahomet and Tancred," 49. 

Malaprop, A German, 174. 

Manilius, 288. 

"Many cooks will spoil the broth," 

Marie Louise, Poem to Empress, 57. 
Marlowe, Christopher, 300, 301. 
Marriage, of G., 53, 124; Sacrament 

of, 189. 
Marx, Frau Pfarrer, 92. 
Masonry, 37, 60, 227, 242. 
Materialist, G. not a, 238. 
May, G. O., 67. 
Mayence, Siege of, 44. 
Mayne, Dr. H., 108. 
Meixner, Charitas, 81-82. 
Mendelssohn, 64. 
Mephistopheles, and the Student, 291, 

292; Contract with, 283, 291-298; 

Features of, taken from Merck, 22. 
Merck, Johann Heinrich, 21-22, 32, 

loi ; Portrait of, 21. 
"Metamorphosis of Animals, The,'' 

57, 256-259- 
"Metamorphosis of Plants, The," 43, 

IS9, 252-255- 
Metempsychosis, 236. 
Meyer, Johann Heinrich, 53, 116, 141, 

Microcosm, 288. 
Mignon, in "Wilhelm Meister," 107, 

Milton, 29, 211, 220. 
Mirandola, Giovanni Pico, Count of, 

285-289; Portrait of, 286. 
Monad, 228, 228, 231-233, 234, 237. 
Monist, The, 22gn. 
Monotheism, 208, 211. 
"More Light" (painting), 63. 

Mother of G. See "Goethe, Catharine 

Muller (pseud, of G.), 38. 
Miiller, Friedrich {Maler), 263*1, 265. 
Muller, Friedrich von (Chancellor), 

146, 175, 234, 248; Portrait of, 236. 
Muller, Heinrich, 137. 
Musenalmanach, 32, 45, 46, 61, 252^. 
"Muses and the Graces in the Mark," 

Mysticism, 229, 233 ; Love of, 285. 

Naeke's "Pilgrimage to Sesenheim,'' 
92-93, 94. 

Napoleon I, Interview with, 55 ; Poem 
to wife of, 57. 

Napoleon HI, 195. 

Napoleonic wars, 57; Frankfort in, 

"Natural Daughter, The," 49. 

Nature, Devotee of, 346; G's rhap- 
.sody on, 245-242; the ideal of ro- 
manticists, 271. 

"Nature and Art," 268-271. 

"Nature, Elucidation to the Aphoristic 
Essay on," 248-250. 

Nature's within from mortal mind," 


Negativism, 346. 

Neues Deutsches Museum, 32. 

"New Love, New Life," 105. 

Ney, Elisabet, 128, 129. 

Nicolai, Christoph Friedrich, 27-28, 
238; Portrait of, 26. 

Nirvana of G., 242. 

Noon, 269. 

Nostradamus, 289. 

Novalis. See "Hardenberg, Fried- 
rich von." 

Novels, Pathological character of G's, 

Objectivity of G's genius, 146, 147. 

Occult Review, The, 2. 

Oeser, Adam Friedrich, 12; Painting 

by, 13. 
Oeser, Friederike Elisabeth, 13. 
"On Mieding's Death," Quotation 

from, 114. 



"One and All," 242, 243. 

"One could a well-bred child beget," 

"Only this time be not caught as yet," 

Open Court, The, S2«, 229». 
Oppenheim, Moritz, 270. 
Orient and Occident, Verses on, 328. 
Orientalism, 229, 236. 
Ottilie in "Elective Affinities," 133. 
"Our rides in all directions bend," 281. 
Oxenford, John, i». 

Pagan, G. a, i8s, 207, 212, 222. 

Pantheism of G., 186, 207, 245, 248. 

"Parabasis," 259. 

Paracelsus, 98, 287, 288. 

Parthey, Dr. G., 174. 

Pathological phenomena, 233. 

Pearce, A. J., Horoscope cast by, 2. 

Personality of God, 329; of Goethe, 
66, 143-176. 

Pessimism, 282; Answer to, 127. 

Pfenninger, 17. 

Pharisee, 225. 

Philosophy, Dislike for, 222; Orien- 
tal, 229. 

Plants, Metamorphosis of, 249. 

Platonism, 287. 

Pogwisch, Ottilie von. See "Goethe, 
Ottilie von." 

Polytheistic tendencies, 182, 186, 204, 
207, 208, 211. 

Posthumous Works, 60, 93M. 

Potonie, H., 222W. 

Prayer, 196. 

Priest, The youthful, 181. 

Proemium, 338-339- 

"Prologue to the Latest Revelations 
of God interpreted by Dr. Karl 
Friedrich Bahrdt," 276-279. 

Prometheus compared to Faust, 282; 
compared to Satan, 211; Fable of, 
201 ; Poem on, 33, 199, 200, 201-203, 

"Proposal," 73. 

"Prose Sayings," 234. 

Protestantism, 179, 187, 191, 192, 273, 
300, 304. 

"Quiet scholar a party attended," 329. 

Raab, Doris, 133. 

Radl, A., 134. 

Rahmhof, The, 9. 

Raphael, 53. 

Redemption, 184. 

Reformation, 192, 193, 283. 

Reincarnation, 229, 236. 

Religion of progress, 197. 

Rembrandt, P., 288. 

Residences of G., 7, 19, 157, 158. 

"Restless Love," 121. 

Resurrection, 225. 

"Reynard, the Fox," 44. 

"Rhenish Must," 176. 

Riemer, Friedrich Wilhelm, 49, 57, 

20S», 234; Portrait of, 235. 
Rieter-Ziegler, Rudolf, 42M. 
Riggi, Maddalena, 38, 40; Portrait 

of, 42. 
Rincklacke, 31. 

Romanticism, 282; Revival of, 272. 
Rosebery, Lord, 4. 
Roslein auf der Haiden, 20. 
Rousseau, Jean Jacques, 263. 

Sachsenhausen, Watch-tower of, 149, 


Sacraments, 187-190, 197. 

"Sadducee I'll be fore'er," 225. 

St. John's day fires, 176. 

St. Leonhard, Church of, igi, 152. 

St. Peter's, View of, 39. 

Salvation, 316; of Faust, 325-326; 
Scheme of, 184, 191. 

Salzmann, 16. 

Sartoux, Count, 8. 

Satan, 2ii; accusing Job, 306, 307. 

Scheible, 299. 

Scheppen, A., 3. 

Schiller, Friedrich, 38, IJZ^, 197, 2S2«, 
26s, 267, 268; Association with, 45- 
47; Death of, 49; G.-table in gar- 
den of, so; Portrait of, 264; Skull 
of, 50-52; Success of, 49. 

Schlegel brothers, 272. 

Schlosser, Johann Georg, 11, 81, 83, 
159 ; Portrait of, 80. 



Schmeller, J. J., Drawings by, 44, 113, 

120, 236; Painting by, 59. 
Schmidt, Erich, 94, 118. 
Schoenemann, Anna Elisabeth, 31, 38, 

103-105; Portrait of, 103. 
Schonkopf, Kitty, 84, 91, 92; Portrait 

of, 83. 
Schopenhauer, Arthur, 127-130; Bust 

of, 129; Couplet dedicated to, 125- 

127; Love poem by, 130. 
Schopenhauer, Johanna, 124; and her 

daughter Adele, Portrait of, 125. 
Schroter, Corona, 108-115; Portraits 

of, 109, 112. 
Schubert, Franz, 47, 48, 109, 218; 

Portrait of, 47. 
Schuler, 82. 
Schulthess, Barbara {nee Wolf), 105- 

108; Portrait of, 106. 
Schultz, O., 156. 
Schwabe, Carl Leberecht, 50. 
Schwanenfeld, Franz von, 173-174. 
Schweppenhauser, Pastor, 93. 
Schwerdgeburth, 14s, 169. 
Science and religion, 196. 
"Second Sojourn in Rome,'' 40. 
Seekatz, J. C, 70. 
Self-control, 272. 
Sesenheim, 92; Parsonage at, 86, 89; 

View of, 91. 
Shirley, Ralph, 2. 
Simm, Franz, 284, 295, 303, 307, 313, 

317. 318, 319- 

Simplicity of G's tastes, 156, 168. 

"Singer, The," 37- 

Sisyphus, 212. 

Skepticism of Haller, 250. 

Skull, Origin of the, 249. 

Socrates, 33. 

"Song of the Spirits Over the Water," 
38, 224-225. 

Soul, a unity of system, 233; Brah- 
man view of, 230; Conception of 
the, 224, 228, 229; -forms. Preser- 
vation of, 237-238. 

Soret, M., 146. 

Spinoza, 29, 185. 

Spiritualist, G. not a, 238. 

Staubbach, Visit to, 38. 

Stein, Charlotte von (nee Schardt), 

37. 38, 119-121, 142, 237; Death of, 

61 ; Portraits of, 140, 141. 
Stein, Friedrich Constantin von, 

(Fritz), Portrait of, 120. 
"Stella," 33- 
Stevens, H., 165. 
Stichling, Councilor, 262. 
Stieler, Joseph, 267. 
Stillen im Lande, Die, 16, 179. 
Stolberg, Count Christian von, 31, 105. 
Stolberg, Count Friedrich Leopold 

von, 31, los, 154. 
Stolberg, Countess Augusta von, 105. 
Storber, A., 86. 
"Storm and Stress," a drama by 

Klinger, 263; Period of, 34, 147, 

i99«, 26s, 267, 271, 300. 
Strassburg, 15-20, 84. 
Study, G's, 156. 
Sturm und Drang, iggn. See also 

"Storm and Stress." 
Suicide, G's view of, 148; of Jerusa- 
lem, 22, 99; of Merck, 22; of von 

Kleist, 25. 
Suleika, 57, 136. 
Sun worship, 179. 
Switzerland, Journeys to, 31, 37, 49, 

Symbol of the Earth-spirit, 282; of 

the macrocosm, 287-288. 
Symonds, J. A., Translations by, 338, 


Tact, Illustration of, 147. 

Tantalus, 212. 

"Tasso," 37, 38, lOS, I74, 282. 

Taylor, Bayard, in, 221, 287. 

Telepathy, 238, 241. 

Teplitz, 167, 173. 

Textor, Anna Margaretha, Portrait 

of, 4- 
Textor, Johann Wolfgang (Schult- 

heiss), I, 8; Portrait of, 3- 
Textor Homestead, 6. 
Thackeray, 167. 
Theater in Weimar, 43, 45, 127; in 

Frankfort, French, 9; Resigned as 

director of, 57. 



Theism, 29. 

Theophilus legend, 301, 302. 

Theophrastus, 98. 

"This truth may be by all believed," 


Thorane, Count of, 9; Portrait of, 8. 

Thorwaldsen, 62. 

Thusnelda. See "Gochhausen, Frau- 

lein von." 
Tieck, Ludwig, 92, 272; Poftr-ait of, 

"Time mows roses," 332. 
Tischbein, 40, 123; Drawing by, 40; 

Paintings by, 41, 106. 
Titanic genius. Spirit of, 199. 
Titans, 211. 

"To a Golden Heart," 105. 
"To Belinde," 105. 
"To Linda," 121. 

"To the Moon," 36, 86, 94, 343-345- 
Transformationist, G. a, 251. 
Trap, Correspondence with, 81. 
Traveling, Fondness for, 158, 168. 
"Treasure Digger," 47. 
Treviranus, 250. 
"Trilogy of Passion," 138. 
Trippel, Alexander, 143, 144. 
"True Enjoyment," 74. 
"Truth and Fiction," 9, 56, 66; Frie- 

derike in, 92; Quotations from, i, 

9, 10, II, 12, 28, 76, 83, 91, 92, 149, 

159. 177-185, 193-194, 195. 211, 274- 
Tiirckheim, Bernhard Friedrich von, 


"Ugolino," 32. 

"United States, The," 61. 

Valentinus, 288. 

"Vanitas! Vanitatum Vanitas!" 57, 

Varnhagen von Ense, 93. 
Vicar of Wakefield, 85, 86. 
Vienna, Invitation to, 173. 
Villeter, Dr. Gustav, 108. 
Volkshuch, 300. 
Volpato, Giovanni, 38. 
Voltaire, 49. 
Volterra, 306. 

Voss, 154. 

Vulpius, Christian August, 41 ; Por- 
trait of, 43. 

Viilpius, Christiana, 41, 49, 121-124, 
IS9, 168, 252; Death of, 57, 136; 
Drawings of, 122, 123 ; Marriage 
to G., S3, 124; Poems to, 123, 124, 
252; Portraits of, 53, 121, 122, 123. 

Wagner, Otto, 35, 158. 
Walch, Professor, 133. 
WWpurgis Night, 284, 285. 
"Wanderer's Night Songs, 121, 217, 

Wanderers Sturmlied, 22. 
"Wandering Bell," 57- 
"War waged the angels for the right," 


Waterloo, Battle of, 136. 

Weimar, G's home at, IS5-IS8; Oc- 
cupation of, 52; Theater at, 43, 45, 
127; Visit to, 33. 

Weinlig, 64. 

Weisbach, Dr. Werner, 42n. 

Welling, 288. 

"Were to the sun not kin our eyne," 

Wernekke, 227. 
"Werther, The Joys of Young," 27- 

"Werther, The Sorrows of," 24-28, 99, 

146, 147, 149, 174, 265, 282. 
"Werther's Grave," 28. 
West-Eastern Divan, 37, 136. 
Wetzlar, G. at, 99; View of, 22. 
"When eagerly a child looks round," 

"When head and heart are busy, say," 

"When in the infinite appeareth," 330. 
"Whim of the Lover," 13. 
"Who never ate with tears his bread," 

37, 304- 
"Who on God is grounded," 220. 
"Who plays with life," 334. 
"Why do you scoff and scout," 329. 
"Why keepest thou aloof ?" 333. 
"Why stand they there outside?" 158. 
Widmann, 299. 



Wiederholte Spiegelungen, 93», 94. 

Wieland, Christoph Martin, 30-31, 37, 
84, 102, ISS, 268; Corona Schroter 
described by, 112; Criticism of, 33; 
Portrait of, 32; Soul of, 231. 

"Wilhelm Meister," 37, 38, 45, 95, lOS, 
147, 282; Mignon in, 107; Quota- 
tions from, 95-98, 196, 304. 

"Wilhelm Meister's Journey Years," 

Wilhelm Meisters theairalische Sen- 
dung, 108. 

Willemer, Johann Jacob von, 134, 135. 

Willemer, Marianne von (nee Jung), 
57. 135-136; Portraits of, 133, 135. 

"Winckelmann and his Century," 49. 

Wine, 168, 170, 171. 

Wolf, Friedrich August, 273, 280. 

Women, Relation to, 66, 73-74, 139- 

World-conception, of Faust, 316; of 
G., 244, 272-273 ; of Greece, 204, 207. 

"World has not been made of mush 
and pies," 335. 

"Would from tradition break away," 

"Wouldst thou ever onward roam?" 

Wunderer, Fraulein von, 98. 

"Xenions and Kindred Poems," 46, 61. 

"Ye faithful," 196. 

Yelpers, Critics are, 281. 

"You have the Devil underrated," 338. 

Zelter, Karl Friedrich, 47, 61 ; Cor- 
respondence with, sgn; Portrait of, 

Zimmermann, Johann Georg, 32. 

Zurich, Visit in, 105, 108.